Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

I’m Only Sleeping

with 13 comments

Usually, when Pudding is sleeping, I am too. Not so many photos of her like this!

You know, there just might be a Beatles song title to fit any blog post…which is a challenge I willingly set for myself.

Last week when I asked for questions, a friend wondered about what really happens at bed time. Sleep is constantly in our thoughts in this house. I’m a big fan of it. I never feel like I get enough of it, and always want more. Even when I was pregnant with Pudding I didn’t get much of it. I was kind of prepared for those early days of round-the-clock breastfeeding. At a few weeks old, she suddenly started sleeping through the night –  a full twelve hours. It was fantastic. We congratulated ourselves on our little sleeper.

So when, at 5 months old, she started waking up all the time, and seemed inconsolable, we thought it was an aberration. It must have been teething. She must have been in pain. I knew nothing of sensory issues back then. I did know about routines though, so we adhered to a strict routine, one that we continue to this day: dinner, bath, story, bed. And at 7 we would have her asleep, then wait for the inevitable screams. We got fed up of this by the time she was 10 months, and we stopped going in every time she woke, and within a few nights she was back to sleeping through the night. Right around this time we discovered her allergy to dairy, but we didn’t make the connection between that and sleep. Again, we patted ourselves on the back for the return of our little sleeper.

She was never thrilled about taking naps, and at around 18 months, when I became pregnant with Cubby, she just gave them up altogether. I craved sleep, tried everything I could think of, but they were gone and haven’t returned. She was back on dairy, and because I hadn’t seen the hives and eczema this time around, we thought she was fine on it. At least she still slept through the night, though the nights got shorter and shorter.

Around this time, what we would later call autism symptoms began to emerge, but we didn’t notice them at the time. I’d tell myself she just needed more sleep, and that may still be true. She definitely functions better on more sleep, like all of us.  Wearing all that energy out of her helps too, so we bought a mini-trampoline for the winter, and we go to the playground or swimming the rest of the time.  Spectrummy Daddy always does some physical play with her before bedtime to wear out the last shreds of hyperactivity.

After her brother was born and we returned to the US, sleep got bad and stayed bad for several months. The first day we took her off wheat, she slept through the night again.  Slowly though, we’ve gone back to night-wakening, fear of going to sleep alone, and the ever-present early-rising.  Are there even more allergies we don’t yet know about?  (Please, no!)

We’ve tried various night lights, no lights, a weighted blanket, a bed tent, a white noise machine, different texture sheets, changing the room temperature- everything we can think of. I have no clue if it is the allergies, sensory issues, anxiety, or just a willful preschooler determined to have her way.  Sleep disturbance may just be another symptom of autism that we just have to deal with.  It may be something we can never alter, just like I’m never going to be perky at 5 in the morning.

She is a smart kid. I’m hoping one day she’ll be able to tell us what she needs to sleep soundly. Or she’ll figure out that when mummy gets too Sleepy, it makes her Grumpy, and getting enough sleep makes her Happy. Maybe I’ll have a word with Bashful about it.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 20, 2010 at 6:50 am

13 Responses

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  1. Hi, it’s the old fidget here. I have always had trouble sleeping. I still am a very early riser, and I find it impossible to sleep without a night-light. Part of it with me is sensory, not being able to feel comfortable, the other is how active my brain is before I try sleeping. I write most of my poetry at 3 in the morning, it is the only way I can empty my head. If I am anxious about something it will keep me awake, because I am trying to find answers, or I feel a real need to tell someone what I am thinking about.
    When I was a child, my Mom tried moving all of my toys out of my bedroom. She thought it was the idea of playing that was keeping me awake. This made it worse because I felt too alone and would stare at the ceiling thinking about them. I had a real problem with my bed feeling messy, and if my continental quilt cover was not exactly right it would upset me. Mom used nappy pins in each corner to solve that problem.
    Feeling calm, settled an resolved is the only way I get good sleep. Even then I still am an early riser.
    Give Pudding a hug for me, she is so cute. x


    August 20, 2010 at 8:15 am

    • I know that brain if hers is active- I wish we could get inside of there and find out what is going on! Maybe one day she’ll be able to fully express herself. And then I’ll get some sleep! I’ve passed on the hug- she demands hundreds of them a day- not touch-aversive at all this one!


      August 20, 2010 at 1:23 pm

  2. Oh darlin’ I SO hear ya!
    We have had some pretty major sleep issues in this house too 😦
    Our Harley has been a shocking sleeper on and off his whole life. He goes through phases too.
    He doesn’t eat dairy or wheat either and I still wonder what else he could be allergic to.
    We have a weighted blanket for him, a strict bedtime routine and even so, there are still nights that we throw our hands up proclaiming “WHAT NOW?????” to the heavens!
    But………..we have been to the paediatrician and succumbed to drugs.
    I didn’t want to and fought it for a long long time but eventually got to the point after 7 years where I couldn’t take it another day longer. The sleep deprivation was killing me.
    I didn’t write this to upset you, but to let you know that you are most definitely NOT alone.
    I really hope you find what works for Pudding so you can all get some serious shut-eye.


    August 20, 2010 at 8:29 am

  3. No, nit upset, just feel bad for you too. 7 years is a long time. I must admit though, I was awful too. I didn’t want to sleep by myself until I was about 10! So I think my parents are laughing at the karma! We may have to go the drug route at some point, but at the moment she isn’t too bad, and Cubby is great for the time being. And you know, I wouldn’t know if I’d medicate her for her anxiety, her impulsiveness and inattention or the sleep disturbance! I guess that is why we’re staying away from meds as long as we can!


    August 20, 2010 at 8:45 am

  4. Ah, sleep. What is that again?
    Sleep is the constant struggle in our house with our 4 yr old, ever since he was 4 months old. He never slept in his crib, and always had to be touching someone to sleep. He’s wake up every 45 mins or so. We finally have settled on long sleeve pjs even in the summer, 1 weighted blanket, 3 other blankets, 1 giant body pillow (which he calls “pretend mom” – a substitute for me) and 2 mg of melatonin. The body pillow is a new addition this week, and zero night wakings in 5 days, and much much better behavior.
    Now *I* have to learn how to sleep again. Because after 4 years of being up every 2 hours to comfort him, I still wake up wondering when someone will be joining me in my bed…


    August 20, 2010 at 8:51 am

  5. I’ve considered the body pillow, but she is *very* particular about what goes on her bed. She has a set of dolls/stuffed animals that have one-by-one become part of her bed companion set that she must have, but introducing anything else doesn’t work so well. It has to be her idea. We’ve had two solid nights in a row thanks to wave noises on the sound machine, but I’m just waiting for it to change again. And I know exactly what you mean about learning how to sleep again!


    August 20, 2010 at 9:47 am

  6. I hear you too, only Julia has never really been a good sleeper. Except that is, when she’s in my bed/arms. From the day we brought her home she’s wanted to be in my bed. Coleman was NOT like this. He never wanted to sleep with us, never needed a night light and has been sleeping through the night since he was 10 weeks old. What they do have in common is difficulty falling asleep. Like Fi we tried everything too. We give the kids Melatonin at night to help them slow down and get to sleep. That’s all Coleman needs, but Julia’s still up several times a night unless she can be in our bed. We have a strict routine, weighted blanket etc.. and she starts off in her bed every night. But she still wakes up in mine almost every morning. I just keep telling myself she won’t still be doing it when she’s 14.

    (Gosh I hope I’m right!)

    Good luck to you!!!!


    August 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    • Hi, thanks for visiting! We’re having a 3 night run of good sleeping. I know it can’t last, but I’m enjoying it. I even have the energy to go for a girl’s night out tonight- unheard of! And good luck to you- we all need sleep!


      August 21, 2010 at 6:07 pm

  7. […] just can’t help myself.  Now, do you remember a few weeks ago I talked about Pudding’s sleep habits?  You don’t remember?  Okay, go back and read it, I’ll be right here. Check […]

  8. I totally feel your pain.

    My daughter is 5 & has Aspergers. She’s been a terrible sleeper her whole life. As a baby (a wee tiny one) she’d fall asleep being rocked & breastfed but the moment she was put down she’d be crying (or just as i was falling asleep 10mins later she’d start) she ended up in our bed & being breastfed to sleep & pretty much having that available all the time, a pacifier wouldn’t do.

    Once she was weaned at 1 I lay with her (she wouldn’t get too close to daddy or let him cuddle her until her brother was born when she was 2) she took foreverrrrrrrr to go to sleep & screamed bloody murder if I left the room. Those were the dark ages in our house.

    Finally we got her into her own bed when she was 2 & finally i didn’t have to lie with her when she was around 2 1/2.

    Once she was 3-4 her father (who is much like a comfort blanket for her, the world revolves around him & her) had to lay with her often. 3-5 she would come into our bed mid night & i’d be woken up in the night for water or toilet duties. She disturbed her brother (3) as well so he’d also wake up & we’d play musical beds mid night. Brother was having night terrors as well but we figured out it was caused by lights so easily solved, he’s always been light sensitive while sleeping, so far not on the spectrum though slightly spectrummy.

    Finally we have her sleeping in her own bed (night light, water, specific toys, specific routine & amount of kisses etc.) it takes her from 8.30-9 until 11-12 to go to sleep, including any number of coming out to check we’re not eating without her & having a meltdown if we are. Little brother has started playing up at bed time as well but gives in long before madam. She also usually wakes up in the night but doesn’t come into our bed.

    Lavendar bath, fresh air & chamomile tea don’t help. Melatonin might be worth a try.

    One day it’ll get better i’m sure.

    Emma Apple

    October 4, 2010 at 11:58 am

    • Oh no, you have it even worse than we do, you poor thing! I know what you mean about the dark ages, sometimes it feels like it will never get better. I hope you find the piece of the puzzle that works for your household. And soon!


      October 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm

  9. Forgot to say that naps ended before she was 1 except when she was so exhausted she slept in her lunch.

    Emma Apple

    October 4, 2010 at 12:09 pm

  10. […] time.  Regular readers know that Pudding, like many children with autism and/or ADHD, has trouble sleeping through the night.  Or going to sleep by herself.  Or staying asleep beyond […]

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