A late night, followed by an early morning. It’s a recipe for disaster.
I simply cannot function correctly if I don’t get at least 6 hours sleep, which means I have to be tucked up in bed before 1am if I’m wanting to be a human the next day. Long gone are the days when I could stay up all night studying, or stumble out of some classy establishment at 3am, roll in to bed at 4 and be up for work feeling fresh as a daisy at 7. Oh no, those days are behind me for sure. I need my sleep to function.
It’s a bit unfortunate then, that I have a child who doesn’t value sleep quite as highly. Ok, all children are total freaks when it comes to going to bed. As soon as the word ‘bedtime’ is mentioned children across the world give out a groan. “But mum, do we have to? can we not have 10 more minutes…” I don’t get it, to be honest. What’s not to love about bedtime? Curling up in your nice warm duvet, letting your head sink in to the pillows – how anyone can moan about that is beyond me.
Both of my children complain about going to bed. The difference between them is that once Caitlin is settled down in bed, she will fall asleep quite quickly. Neil, on the other hand, will not. Cannot not in fact.
Because of Neil’s ASD, he finds it very hard to settle at night. So I may joke about it, and say he doesn’t value his sleep, but in reality it’s not his fault.
It’s always been a problem for him. Even as a baby we really struggled to settle him to sleep at night. Obviously then we didn’t know the reason, I just thought that’s what babies did. I tried everything I could to establish some kind of night time routine that worked to no avail. Things only got worse as he got got older.
It is very common for children with ASD to have a sleeping problem. It can be caused by a number of things. It could be a sensory issue, with the child being unable to switch off their senses in bed, or a problem with the hormone melatonin which helps us sleep being released in the wrong quantity. It could also be down to anxiety.
We have not pinpointed the exact reasons that Neil has trouble sleeping. I would imagine it is a mixture of things, particularly his anxiety.
Neil is afraid of the dark, and very much afraid of being in a room on his own, which means lying down in a dark empty room is going to be quite difficult for him. We use night lights in his bedroom, but that doesn’t help with the whole being alone thing.
He has also mentioned that ‘he can’t turn off his brain’ in bed, and I think he spends a lot of time thinking about anything and everything in bed, which can lead him to get quite anxious and upset.
On a good night, we would be lucky to get him to sleep before midnight. On the bad nights he can still be awake at 2 or 3am. Some nights he just lies in his bed making noises to himself and banging the walls or banging his bed frame. Other night he will be up and down, or shouting for me every ten minutes.
I try to be as patient as I can. I understand he can’t help it, but as I am walking up the stairs for the 20th time I do sometimes have to take a deep breath and count to ten.
His sleeping has been worse in the weeks since starting back at school school in September. He is falling asleep a lot later, and waking up more during the night. On Sunday night he was still awake at almost 4am! As you can imagine, he was not functioning properly on Monday morning, crying in to his cereal, so I made the decision to keep him off school for the day. He really doesn’t like school, and it’s maxing him even more anxious at night.
All of this late night, early morning business hasn’t been doing me any favours. Some days I’m so tired that I can barely pull myself out of bed in the morning. With coffee and sheer determination I can usually get through the day without my head hitting my desk with a bang, but by the time 8pm comes I can barely keep my eyes open. But of course, I have to keep my eyes open, because I have to be their for my boy when he feels anxious again.
As much as I joke and complain about being tired, I will stay awake all night if I have to, if it means I can help.
That’s one of the reason I’ve been so quiet on the blog, because I’m just too tired to write in the evenings like I used to. Hopefully once he’s settled back in to school things will calm down a bit, but until then…. make mine an extra strong coffee!