Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Who needs sleep?

There is a Barenaked Ladies song titled "Who Needs Sleep?"  I have found myself singing the lyrics a lot over the past year.
Who needs sleep?
well you're never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
tell me what's that for
Who needs sleep?
be happy with what you're getting
There's a guy who's been awake
since the Second World War.

When Max was born he slept. 
Max took awesome naps, he slept through the night very early, and this pattern of excellent sleep was great until about a year.  We have been told and through our own research that most ASD symptoms don't manifest until about a year.  There were some signs when Max was a baby, but sleep wasn't one of them.
Max would literally sleep anywhere.
At about 18 months things drastically started to change.  Max started staying up later and later and having a harder time falling asleep.  He was still taking a solid three hour nap in the afternoon which was a huge help to me because I was pregnant with Dexter.  By the time Max turned two his sleep became a huge problem.  He was struggling with falling asleep, would go into tantrum mode, and unless Will didn't hold him to fall asleep he wouldn't until 1 or 2am.  We didn't change our night routine, we kept everything the same. 
This is how most nights would end, Max crashed on the floor at 1 or 2am.
What changed?  What were we doing wrong?  Were we not strict enough?  Was Max taking advantage of the situation? What was wrong with our son?

We tried everything to get Max back on the schedule we had.  We considered it a small victory when Max would go to sleep before 11pm.  We got Max a big boy bed, had him stop taking naps, would get him up really early in hope that he would be so tired by bed time.  We tried everything.  But nothing was working.
Then Dexter was born.  A newborn and a toddler that wasn't sleeping was killing Will and I.  People kept telling us "he is just regressing because of Dexter, things will get back to normal."  Well normal didn't come back, instead things got worse.  Max was staying up until 2am most nights.  He would scream and cry and spin his hands in front of his face.  He couldn't turn himself off, he couldn't fall alseep.  Then during the day he was a zombie.  It was an awful cycle and this lasted for 6 months until we got some answers and some help.

There's so much joy in life,
so many pleasures all around
But the pleasure of insomnia
is one I've never found
With all life has to offer,
there's so much to be enjoyed
But the pleasures of insomnia
are ones I can't avoid.

Children on the ASD spectrum have a hard time sleeping.  A lot of ASD children do not produce the bodies natural melatonin to allow their bodies to relax and go to sleep. 80% of ASD children have sleep issues.  Once we learned this Max's sleep issues made sense.  He would self stimulate at night to try and calm himself down, but really he was getting more anxious and upset at the thought of going to sleep.  Max also was suffering from Night Terrors.  We needed help.  Our family was suffering.

Max now takes 1mg of melatonin drops every night.  This was suggested by the specialist we saw at Primary Children's in Salt Lake.  We found a slow release drop and it has been working great.  Max now goes to bed around 9-10.  Some nights earlier.  But he sleeps until 8am most mornings.  There are still bad nights, but they are not EVERY night.  He still gets night terrors, but again they are infrequent.  Our life has changed.  Will and I are happier, we are able to get things done during the day, we don't feel like we have been hit by a bus.  We are now capable of helping Max with other aspects of his life.


  1. What a miracle. So sorry your family had to endure all that.

  2. Random follow-up comment, but I was watching something from MamaNatural on YouTube and she found (research and experience with her 3-year-old) that drinking cherry juice helps boost melatonin levels. I figured I'd just pass it on and you can take it or leave it :)