Today I learned a valuable lesson: a good night’s sleep can put you in a good mood.
I know that sleep has health benefits, of course. I also am intimately familiar with the concept that you can’t function properly and productively on less than 6 hours of sleep, and I can attest first-hand to the fact that lack of sleep makes you grumpy and touchy.
But a good mood? I didn’t know that until this morning.
You see, yesterday I was depressed, in that kind of “am I getting my period early?” way. Life is good, in fact, it’s very good, but I am waiting on a few things I really was looking forward to, one of which at least looks like it possibly fell through. I was despairing, and also suffering over it. I knew I was sleep deprived, yet fear of lying in bed staring at the back of my eyelids kept me up on Facebook late on Wednesday night (then I got distracted and then Zoe got up). So, last night, I hit the bed around 10 and lights out by 10:30. Zoe woke me briefly an hour or so later, but then I slept straight through til morning, and even went back to sleep after hubby’s alarm went off.
I could have slept another hour, but I woke up in a REALLY good mood! Then my good mood was capped by hearing Zoe, also in a good mood from sleeping, even with her speech delay, singing most of the word’s to Cinderella’s “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes”.
Now, I know if you have a child with sleep difficulties (can I get an amen from the parents of kids with autism and sensory disorders??), you are like, “Well, Gina, that’s great, but there IS no sleep in my house.” Yes, I have been there, just last week in fact. I may be back there again next week, who knows? I also read that lack of sleep in kids with ASD can increase poor behaviors (see PDF below).
Below however, are some of the things I’ve employed at different times that have worked to get my girl to sleep:
- Routine and schedule. I’ll admit, we’ve been REALLY lax about this. If Zoe has no school, I don’t wake her up, and if she goes later than Amelia, I also don’t wake her up. It turns out, though, that forcing her to get up merely 1 or 1.5 hours earlier seems to make her more likely sleep through the night! Also, it’s easier to get her dressed from the waist down, AND she actually mimicked Amelia brushing her teeth one day. That’s a BIG deal! No more late sleeping for this kid.
- Keep your child in her room. This is REALLY hard, but we’ve employed all kinds of tactics to keep her in there: child proof gates that allow me and my hubby easy access, locks on the gates (she’s figured out locks), nightlights, leaving the light on, toys that she cannot climb (to get over the gate), keeping the heat up (she sadly has the “cold” room), stuffed animal/soft doll to sleep with, light blankets, etc. And don’t let them sleep with you! In this house, that inevitably is a slippery slope we can’t get back up.
- Manage their stimuli. So again, experiment with lights on/lights off/ night lights. Try weighted blankets or heavy quilts. If your child will wear pajamas, make sure they are tight ones.
- Give them the best chance to sleep. Feed them early enough. Give a bath. No stimuli like TV or games for an hour or so before. Change diaper at last possible opportunity.
- Ask your doctor about melatonin supplements. DO NOT DO THIS BEFORE CONSULTING WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN!* Melatonin is the hormone in your brain that gets released when the sun goes down, bringing on sleepiness and yawning. I just learned that sometimes kids and people with autism do not have this hormone properly releasing at the correct times in the brain. Also, apparently you can give too much and it back fires, which is why you should check with your child’s doctor before using it as a sleep aid.
Do you have any tips to add to my list that have worked for you ? Sweet dreams to all you parents!
*I almost never advocate for any kind of drugs or supplements that do not already exist in the foods we eat, so pursue this avenue at your own risk.