Sleep Success

Well, since my last bedtime post, we’ve been working an tweaking the ritual, trying lot so new and different things and also reading a lot on children and sleep issues.

Two things stood out for me in my reading: the first, was the neurologist’s assertion that some brain injured kids don’t need as much sleep as typical children. I’d never considered that. The second thing was an article that said that trouble falling asleep is most-like an issue related to routine.

I went with the easy way out first–I enforced zero bedtime. This resulted in several nights where he was up past eleven. Eventually he would whine or fall asleep on the floor and we’d put him in bed.

Then he’d sleep half the day at school, which was the opposite of what we were going for.

Then, I switched things up and put him in bed at “bed time,” but letting him play with whatever he wanted. This went well, but he was still up til almost eleven–an improvement, but not a great one.

Further research revealed that problems with going to sleep are often a result of not having a good bedtime routine. Sigh. I’m not a fan of routines. I also find that the more pregnant I get, the less I feel like doing anything in the evening.

But we did it anyway. We stuck to a very rigid 9:00 bedtime, which is later than most four-year-olds, but acceptable to me. We follow the exact same routine every evening.

Guess what? It’s working.

He’s falling asleep before 10:30 every night. He takes about a one hour nap at school. He doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night crying.

He’s also in a better mood during the day, participating more in therapy, and just generally seems happier.

It’s not a miracle cure–we’ve had a bad night or two, but it sure beats the night after night of getting up at two and three in the morning, and the hours of screaming before bed.

I’ll continue to keep y’all posted, but MAN is this better than before.

PS: I finished this post last night and OF COURSE we had a rough sleepless night–luckily, we knew what we’d done wrong, which makes the sleepless nights a lot easier.


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  1. Kim Young says:

    I an glad something is helping. Oh, and of course after you write a post like that something would happen. πŸ˜‰

  2. Gabriella says:

    Yes! How true that children with special needs have different sleep needs than typically-developing children! We know all the differences, but we tend to try to fit our kids into the typical mold (maybe because we get advice from “typical” parents and read all those “typical” books and articles (which I want to burn!) Good for you for listening to your gut! Peaceful dreams! *said while I continuously look for sleep-better answers!*

    • I do think there’s a bit of a leap mentally when it comes to our special needs children. For the longest time I refused to accept that Charlie should ever be treated differently because of his disability. These days, I still discourage that, but I recognize that in some instances it’s the only way to go.

  3. I couldn’t help but think about Johnson and Johnson Lavender Night-Time body wash while reading this! You certainly know your kid the best, but perhaps including a sensory (smell) element into this new nighttime routine would add to the ritual? With my kids, that stuff was like Pavlov’s bell–they got sleepy even as I put them in the tub!

    • Funny you would mention that, Claire. We put some drops of Eucalyptus oil on his pillow at night–helps open up the sinuses (which he totally needs), and i think it also helps put him in a sleepy mood.

  4. I am not a big routine person either, and not a night person so this was hard on me too but it made all the difference in the world. Praying it keeps getting better!

  5. My heart goes out to you for the lack of sleep. Tough spot to be in, especially if you need to be reasonably sane during the daytime!

    Did I miss whether or not you mentioned trying melatonin? Our neuro recommended it for our daughter, who needed to fall to sleep quickly to shorten that “twilight zone” where she was more susceptible to seizures. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the brain, though that system can be messed up in kids with brain differences. Oh…and melatonin production is also affected by sunlight, so in winter we all naturally make less of it.

    Anyway, melatonin has been a lifesaver at our house. You might ask Charlie’s doc about it.

    I hope you get to have better sleep…it makes a WORLD of difference in how the day goes!

    • We haven’t done melatonin because I’m in the miniscule percentage of people who had an allergic reaction to it when I tried it. So, I’m scared to try it with Charlie. I felt like my throat was closing up and it was SCARY!

  6. Could not agree more. I have found that any ritual established with Bennett and bedtime always seems to have a more positive, though not always certain, impact. Lately it has been working with him and certain books and/or songs.

    But I also think that dinner and snacking has an impact too, and I only have come to REALLY believe this after this past week and the radical shifts I have made in eating and feeling its effects. If I can somehow figure out a way to manipulate The Most Picky Eater in The World’s consumption habits…I think I could really slow him down at night and that would make an enormous difference.

    • The connection between diet and the brain is largely ignored my the medical community, but whoo boy is it there. I have similar issues with Charlie–at age four he’s pretty certain about what he wants to eat and what he doesn’t want to. Right now I’m content to just sneak vegetables into things, but I do think dietary changes would effect him positively.

  7. I am not routined either; it took us a long time to wise up and start cracking down about regular bedtimes, but man is it better the last few years since we have.
    Also… did I miss the announcement somehow, or are you guys opting not to find out your baby’s gender this time?

    • Gosh. I feel like I must have announced it, but maybe not–it’s a boy! I’m pretty stoked as this means I get to keep being the Queen of my castle.

  8. Yay for sleep success!! I get the sentiment of “this might not seem like a big improvement, but it is WAAAAY better”. We started with a routine with nighttime wakings–just getting past that (screaming) hurdle seemed like a miracle, and I was super content just to stay there (with the “going to bed” part of the evening still a nightmare). Our psychologist had us (gulp) eventually change our entire bedtime routine, and I can say that IT IS AMAZING, the difference. We are all different people, BETTER people, for getting through the bedtime issues. We still have a hiccup every now and then, but overall it’s fantastic.
    It took us two years to realize we needed help/a change, and about a year to implement the entire overhaul (with successes, much like the one you write about, along the way).
    Cheers to you! And may your bedtime success continue!

  9. Sleep is so important, of course, so I’m glad you’ve found something that is working most of the time. I hope it keeps up and gets even better!! πŸ˜€

  10. When Oatie was a Baby, I had 4,2,0 and I had a strict bedtime routine, it was the only way I survived… that was find till we moved country and we got a bit slacker and have done for a year or so as Oatie will be 5 this year…so this one might help in a few years time… I’ll make you laugh Oatie is rearing to go to bed, it’s my eldest who wants to delay bedtime. So I got my Workout app on my iphone and instead of rep intervals, I reprogrammed it has what they have to do next, from teeth brushing to laying their clothes out for the next day and a two minute bedroom tidy… and has the airhorn and inbetween it plays music, it’s hysterical even Oatie trys to join in as he’s scrambling up the stairs to beat his 8 year old brother to the top to win, if they get ready in the set amount to time they get their full story time.

    Oatie also sleeps less than my older two by a good few hours each night, he’s in bed by 8-8.30 but often I hear him singing till about 9-9.30 and as he’s not at preschool he get’s to sleep in but never does lol!

    Well Katy, I think you’re amazing having Charlie, Twins and being pregnant xox

  11. My older son Max has autism and he needs less sleep that is brother. He has been going to bed at around 9:30 for a while. His brother Sam goes to be at around 7PM. if I tried to put Max to bed that early he would wake up super early and it would drive me crazy!

  12. Less sleep than his brother, I mean! I need to learn to type!

  13. So glad you found something that works. :) I think all kids love routines.