It's about 11:30 pm now. Janey is awake, wide awake, watching TV. Last night, she slept not at all. This used to be an unusual, shocking thing, that she could go totally without sleep all night now. It's not any more. In time since school ended for the year, there's been about six nights without sleep, without ANY sleep. There was one last Thursday, just five days before last night's non-sleep night. I hope there's some sleep tonight. It seems like there would have to be. But maybe not.
What is going on? For most of Janey's life, sleep has been one of her lesser issues. There were always occasional insomnia nights, but not a huge amount, and very rarely ones with no sleep. Something changed recently.
I don't have a lot of theories. One of the few I have is that it's just her age. She is almost 15, and that is an age you start staying up later. I've read that it's theorized it's biologically hard-wired, because it gives teenagers a time to relate without older or younger people awake, and that leads, indirectly, to the human race continuing. Maybe Janey is feeling that draw, to be up at night when others aren't. But while most teenagers might realize not to take it too far, to eventually sleep, Janey doesn't. She just stays awake. And she doesn't get the desired alone time. We can't leave her alone. If she's awake, we are awake, or trying hard to be awake.
If Tony hadn't retired early, if he had to get up for work each day...well, we'd have dealt with it, because what else can you do? But even with him home, it's very, very hard. After missing a night's sleep, even with the two of us trading off, you aren't yourself. It's hard to explain unless you've had a period of being chronically sleep-deprived. It feels like you aren't fully alive. It feels like everything is happening in a daze, a mist. You can't do anything that requires thought or effort. It's like your mind tries to half sleep even when you are awake.
Janey started summer school this week. I don't know if she slept at school today. We have always sent her to school even when she doesn't sleep, as unlike Tony or me, she seems little affected the day after not sleeping. Even after the day after becomes the night after, she just doesn't seem sleepy. She often stays up quite late the night after not sleeping at all.
We plan on talking to Janey's psychiatrist soon about this not sleeping. Right now, we do give her melatonin, as we have for years, for all the good it does. When I take melatonin, which I do now and then, I fall asleep always in about half an hour. I don't know if it does a thing for Janey any more. Her pediatrician has told us it's okay to give her Benadryl on the very worst insomnia nights, but that also now seems to have no effect. If I ever take Benedryl, I'm knocked out like a light. So I don't think any other sleep medicine is going to work. The urge to be awake on the non-sleep nights is stronger than most anything.
It's gotten so we can tell ahead of time when Janey's not going to sleep a certain night. The main giveaway seems to be her attention span getting extremely short. On evenings before she sleeps, she changes YouTube videos or songs absolutely constantly, after about 10 seconds. She watches the same pieces of video over and over and over, separated by little pieces of a different video. She paces while she does this, and often does her OCD routines---straightening out the remotes on the living room table, turning on and off lights or the AC, doing spot checks to make sure we aren't crossing our legs or arms---the routines we've seen for many a year, but in a more intense way than usual.
The non-sleeping probably affects me almost out of proportion. When I don't sleep, I feel hopeless and isolated. It can feel, in the middle of a long, sleepless night, like we are on a little island or planet, completely alone. It can feel like morning will never actually arrive. It can seem like Janey will never sleep again, that this will go on forever and ever and ever. I know my mind plays tricks on me when I don't sleep. It can make my outlook pretty bleak.
And now it's close to midnight. Janey is awake, watching a video she has watched many times tonight, one where a woman spells the names of animals after pronouncing their names in odd ways---KAN-grew for Kangaroo. That, and the one where Mr. Harlow opens surprise eggs, and the three cats called Cutians, and Coco-Melon videos, all the videos on heavy repeat during sleepless nights---well, if I never hear any of them again, that would just be fine. Let's hope for a few hours sleep tonight, and let's hope the summer someday becomes a sleepy fall.