Saturday, June 5, 2010

Insomnia Strikes

Our Kimball has a tendency to stress out about things that are difficult for him. (Anxiety is a real problem for many kids with Asperger's Syndrome.) One of those things is falling back to sleep when he awakens in the night. At one point we gave him permission to turn on the lights and read when he awoke in the night, but that led to him being awake and reading complete novels between 3am and 7am. So we try to discourage that these days.

A couple of nights ago he came into our room in a panic because he said he had been awake for an hour. It's possible that he had really been awake that long and also possible that he had drifted off and awoken again-- either way he was stressed out and afraid that he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep.

After holding him close and breathing together until I could feel his heart rate slowing down to a more sleep-conducive speed, I made a few suggestions. One, my dad's old standby when we couldn't sleep: "Read the Old Testament. I like Leviticus for insomnia.":) I assured him that it would have quite a different effect than Percy Jackson books did in the middle of the night.

My second suggestion was that he try counting sheep. I explained that he should close his eyes and relax and imagine sheep jumping over a fence. He should count each one until he fell asleep.

The next morning, I asked him if he'd been able to fall back to sleep.

"I did," he replied, "but the counting sheep didn't work out so well."

"Why is that?" I queried, figuring that if he'd fallen asleep, it had worked out great.

"I kept having problems with three or four sheep jumping the fence at the same time and it made them hard to count!"

How do you deal with insomnia yourself, or with your kids? Please share!

Cartoon used with permission from this site.


Mama Rachel said...

Oh, that is TOUGH! I'm usually the one that can't sleep in the middle of the night. And I don't have a real solution that works well.

I know my husband, when he had this problem as a kid, used some homeopathic pills found at health food stores. They dissolve under the tongue, and have no taste, in case swallowing pills is an issue. (I know it is a HUGE one with my Aspie daughter.)

Maybe rubbing some relaxing essential oils, like lavender, on his feet before bed would help?

Best of luck!

Jen H. said...

I was sick this week, and I woke up morning at 2 a.m. with a pounding headache. It hurt so bad that I couldn't go back to sleep. So I went in the other room and read a book until 4. Just as I finished the last paragraph, my husband wandered in, looking for me (weird timing). By then my head was doing better and I was able to sleep.

So: I like to read when I'm awake in the middle of the night. Even if it messes with my next day (which it did).

Prudy said...

Oh, that's hilarious! I can just imagine those mannerless sheep, all jockeying for position and jumping the fence together. What's a sleepless boy to do? As for insomnia, my dad taught me that if you can't sleep, it would still be beneficial to relax your body. So now I concentrate on relaxing to the fullest, just in case I end up missing out on a lot of sleep.

Stacey said...

We have sleeping issues here at our house as well. We talked with the doctor and she said that my daughter could take melatonin. Her problem isn't waking up in the night it is going to sleep in the first place. Melatonin helps relax you into falling asleep or back to sleep. I get it at Trader Joe's. The pills are chewable and taste like peppermint. My daughter gets 4 pills a night. They are 500mcg pills. Our doctor said she could take up to 5mg. I'm only giving her 2mg and it is working. Good Luck! Interrupted sleep isn't good for anyone.

Michal said...

We do use melatonin for our boys-- Kimball and Ian only need 1/2 a mg most nights and Henry 1mg. And sometimes when Kimball wakes up early in the night, I sometimes give him another 1/2 mg. But not if it's after 3:00 or so. The melatonin makes a big difference in falling asleep for sure.

Kimberly said...

That is just too sweet how his imagination had three and four jumping at one time...I'm sure that's a sign of intelligence and creativity.

I struggled with insomnia as a child and teenager (having kids cured me of it). I sometimes found it helpful to write down what was on my mind. I used to be afraid to go to sleep lest I forget everything my mind was buzzing with.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I was going to suggest melatonin as well ... and then maybe writing a journal entry before bed. I have insomnia quite often and it is terrible!?!?

The MacGregors said...

HAHA! I LOVE how he imagined several sheep jumping at the same time- kids are awesome!

Becky said...

That is so funny.

Our oldest has some sleep probs which have been alleviated quite a bit by a sleep mask which I purchased here:

I've never tried melatonin, though. I'll have to give that a go.

mindyluwho said...

I like how his mind works. That's exactly what happens to me when I try to imagine things!