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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Night Waking without Day Sleeping

For 5 out of the last 6 nights, Janey has been awake most of the night.  The problem is never falling asleep.  She goes to sleep easily, between 7:30 and 8:30.  But then, around 1 or 2, she wakes up.  She wakes up completely, ready to rumble.  She asks for food, videos, a bath, "go to the ice cream store", whatever.  She seems to have no idea it's night.  Nothing, I mean nothing, we can do gets her back to sleep.  And so we are awake, at least one of us.  We try to take turns, so that Tony and I both get some sleep.

I've of course researched this and talked about this before.  I've gotten lots of helpful ideas this way, or at least helpful in theory.

1.  Create a safe space, put Janey in there, don't let her out, so you can sleep anyway.

Our apartment is small, but with one son in college and the other mostly sleeping on the 3rd floor of our house (the apartment is small, but the overall house is big, and we are on the 1st floor), we do have spare rooms.  However, putting Janey in one of them alone is not an option, because of her self-injurious behavior.  If she's upset, and being alone in a room with us not answering her whims will make her upset in a short amount of time, she bites and scratches herself.  No matter how empty the room is, she has the tools to hurt herself, and that is not something we can live with.

2.  Melatonin

Tried it.  No effect, none.  Nothing.  Maybe it works better to get kids to sleep at night, and not for night waking, or maybe, like with a lot of medications, Janey has a very high tolerance.

3.  Other medications

Janey's new medication, Tenex, for the first few days seriously made her tired.  In the daytime.  But even then, not at night much.  After a couple days, it doesn't seem to be making her tired at all, which is very good news for the day, as it's helping otherwise, but very bad news for the night.  Our pediatrician said we could give Janey Benedryl when she was just not sleeping.  One Benedryl and I'm out like a light, but again---no effect on Janey.  None.

4.  Completely giving Janey no attention, besides just saying "time to sleep" and lying down with her.

Yeah.  Tried that one a million times.  Janey is not terribly dependent on our encouragement through attention to keep asking us for what she wants.  We can say "time to sleep", turn off all the lights, and still, a hundred times, a thousand times, she says "Kipper?  Ice Cream?  Bacon?  TV on?  Go in the car?  Backyard?"  If we don't answer, she starts screaming, assuming we didn't hear.  Or she cries.  Or hits us.  Believe me, we've tried the no response bit for hours on end.  No effect.

5.  Giving in and staying up with her, assuming she'll sleep when she's tired

She likes that one, but the "sleep when she's tired" part never arrives.  It just becomes a daytime routine at night---videos, food, jumping up and down---and she usually winds up staying up all night, from 2 on.  And then all day, until 8 the next night.  She just seems to be one of those people who doesn't require a great deal of sleep.

6.  Punishments

Like what?  No punishment that we could actually use has any effect on Janey.  Time out?  That requires us to sit right there and monitor her, which she has learned to tolerate until the time out ends, at which whatever behavior started it starts right up again.  No videos?  Sure.  She'll just scream, cry, bit herself, freak out, keep us up all night.  That's our most common try---saying to her "If you are going to be awake, no food.  No videos.  No entertainment"  She doesn't give up.  I think this has to do with her weak sense of what is night and what is day.  Sure, she thinks, we are being resistant, but eventually it's somehow that magical time when you get breakfast again, and if she keeps asking and screaming OVER and OVER and OVER, that time will arrive.

7.  Rewards

Again, like what?  Stickers on a chart to get a reward?  Janey has zero understanding of this.  Promises if she will stay in bed?  She has no real wants except immediate things, and she doesn't understand long term promises, like things that will happen in a few hours.  We could say "If you stay in bed and let Mama and Daddy sleep, we will get you ice cream in the morning"  She doesn't get what morning is, she doesn't make the connection between doing something now and getting something later.

I could go on and on.  I don't want to be defeatist.  I very badly want a solution here.  I have a lot of hope that once school starts, her sleep will improve.  The night waking still occurs during the school year, but much less.  And I realize this might just be a case of her not needing the sleep we do.  Maybe, I hope, in 10 years or something, she'll be able to be left alone awake while we sleep.  I have to admit, though, when we are walking around like zombies day after day from not sleeping, that thought isn't a lot of comfort.

But...the days are better lately.  And that is great.  If we were only awake to enjoy it.


Antti said...

I just wanted to tell you that I know how you feel, after innumerable sleepless nights during the past years.
I'm bound to think that the brain does mature subtly, even though the development might appear stalling and that everything counts, in one way or the other. We are nowadays having it, if not perfect, at least a lot better than before.
Here's to the hope for the better nights!

Suzanne said...

That is encouraging to hear! A lot of days, that is what keeps me going---knowing that Janey IS learning and progressing, even on days I can't see it at all. And last night was better. We tried keeping her up a little later and also tried the melatonin again when she woke up, and one or the other shortened her awake spell to an hour, which felt like almost nothing. And school starts in 3 days!