Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Quest for Sleep

Ahh, Sleep.

Elijah has never really been a good sleeper.  Not bad, but definitely not good.  When he was an infant, I would spend forever trying to get him to sleep to only have him nap for a half hour.  I read the books.  I followed the directions.  I wrote down all of his sleeping and eating and...other (wink wink nod nod) habits.  He still didn't sleep didn't really matter what we did.  Or how much I tried to figure out his patterns.

We'd go through phases.  For awhile, we'd be able to lay him down in bed and he'd go to sleep on his own.  Then it'd stop and I'd end up rocking him to sleep.  He'd wake in the middle of the night and I'd end up spending half of the night sleeping in a rocking chair because I was so tired.

Once in awhile, he'd sleep through the night.  We'd think it was a new pattern.  "What did we do last night?" we'd ask ourselves in the morning.  We'd try to replicate the exact same no avail.  There just didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to his sleep patterns.  Sometimes he sleeps, sometimes he doesn't. (It's still pretty much like this).

Right now, Elijah is probably the best sleeper he's ever been.  He takes a solid nap every afternoon after lunch, which is consistently an hour and a half.  It's glorious, he never slept like that when he was a baby (45 minutes was good back in babyhood days).

Remember how we moved Elijah to a toddler bed?  It was the right decision -he used to cry every night when he had to go to bed and he'd hit his head on the crib railings. We've switched things up a bit...A few months ago we decided to buy a twin mattress as he was falling out of the toddler bed.  He wasn't getting hurt.  (In fact, one night we heard him fall out of bed onto the pillows we had piled below.  Andy went in to check on him to find him still asleep on the pillows). Regardless, we knew we needed to find a different sleeping solution. It wasn't working.  So, now we have a mattress on the floor with a small toddler railing to help him feel a little more contained.

Having the mattress on the floor was really just meant to be temporary, but we haven't found a bed that we've been satisfied with just yet. Well, not one within our price range anyway.  I found a special needs bed that I've drooled over, but it's a bit out of our price range. $3800 I didn't care, I was still admiring it. $3800 I could just zipper Elijah in and he'd jump around (safely) and eventually go to sleep. $3800.  He couldn't bang his head on the floor. $3800.  Wouldn't it be glorious? $3800.  I think it'd be a good thing if we can teach Elijah how to sleep in a standard bed. $3800  I'm pretty sure we will get there. $3800 Right? $3800 Yes, yes, we will. $3800.  Not having that bed is a good thing. $3800. We don't need it. $3800.  In all seriousness, though, we don't need it.  Not just because it's $3800, but because I'm sure we'll be able to teach him how to sleep in a standard ol' bed...maybe with some padding on the walls if needed. I hope.

The only problem with not being in a crib is that Elijah can get out of bed. Um, yeah.  Every night either Andy or I sit by Elijah's bed until he falls asleep.  He'll sit up and we'll lie him back down.  It's not that big of a deal, really, but it's getting old.  Fed up, two nights ago I decided we needed to do something about it.

So, I decided to let him get out of bed instead of sitting right next to him.  When he got out, I'd tell him it was bedtime and put him back in bed. Then with each subsequent escape, I silently put him back in bed.  The first night, I didn't count how many times Elijah got out of bed.  It felt like a hundred times.  Last night he got out 36 times.  Tonight, 15.  I'm hoping that at some point we can lie him in his bed, tell him we love him and leave the room and he'll sleep.  That's the goal anyway - if I don't go insane in the meantime.  I know that the only way this is going to work is if we're consistent.

It's interesting to me how he reacted tonight verses last night.  Elijah would wait longer in-between his escape attempts.  Sometimes, he'd get to the edge of the bed, sit there for a few moments and then get out, knowing full well what was going to happen once he got out.  He goofed around in his bed more.  He decided to add standing on the bed and mouthing the wall in his repertoire ("Look, I'm not getting out of bed, mom. You didn't say anything about not mouthing the walls!").  He's a resourceful guy.  So, I had to add not letting him stand on his bed or mouth his wall to my repertoire of behaviors to stop.  To me, these things show what a smart guy he is, though.  Just like any other kid, he's trying to get out of going to bed.  If he could he'd be asking for "just one more glass of water.pleeeeeaaase?"

He's still getting up in the middle of the night.  But, last night, all I had to do was place him back in bed and he went back to sleep (instead of him needing me to stay in the room for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour).  And, drum roll....he's not hitting his head on the floor in the middle of the night anymore! Well, it hasn't stopped completely (he did it just last night), but it's rare now instead of being an every night guarantee.

I know some of my blogging friends deal with much more sleeping issues than we do.  Hugs to you!  I think interrupted sleep is probably one of the hardest parts of being a parent.  And that goes for all of don't have to have a kid with special needs to know what this is like.  In fact, I know this is an issue than many parents have to work through.

I just have to add, I really have no idea what I'm doing.  I remember reading some advice once on a support group on how to get your kid to sleep in their bed and this is what I think the advice was - to keep putting them back in bed.  Makes sense to me.  Elijah definitely learns by repetition and he's already showing that he's understanding what's going on.  Someday, he'll sleep through the night every night.  And someday I will too. Um, I think I'm going to bed now.

Wow, this was a long rambling post.  Um, goodnight? I hope.


Anonymous said...

Really good progress!


Looks like you have figured-out a method that works! Barbara

Dad said...

Makes me tired just thinking about it. Probably doesn't help that I was awake more than what I can count on one hand, myself last night. Maybe Elijah should come live with me. We are on the opposite cycle of life, but deal with some of the same issues, so it seems.
Keep up the patience. You are doing a good thing with that guy.
Love Dad

Candace said...

It sounds like a nightmare! LOL! Faith had a lot of problems with sleep for the first five years! Awful! You know we built Faith a special bed that she could fall out of when she grew out of her crib, it's a twin sized bed so she can use it forever, if she needs to. I posted a blog about it, last fall. We used a flea market twin bed frame and built drop sides on it, pretty easy, it was done in one afternoon and you know she loves it! Much cheaper! I paid $25 for the bed and spent less than $200 to complete the bed.

Kathy Lausted said...

Lisa, Sleep is priceless when you don't have it. What you wouldn't do to just get some sleep!! I've had one of those weeks this week but it's work related. ARGH! But your family has it on an on-going basis. Elijah is getting there and so are you:). Love you, Mom

Jennifer Thayer said...

Remember, Lisa...
We are here, wide awake in White Bear Lake with our own little sleep monster.
I feel your pain and honor your quest.
If you find any great resolution, share the wealth!

Haley's Mom said...

Reading this brought back a lot of memories (I will probably blog about it soon) I went through a lot of what you have been going through. Haley sleeps on a regular mattress on the floor still today. She had a real bed until she fell out of it and broke her collarbone. She also still gets up at night, but like Elijah as soon as I put her back in and cover her up she falls right back to sleep. So there is a little progress there. We do what we have to do, right?

sug said...

You're right...sleep is an issue all parents have to deal with, regardless of "needs" their kids may have. I hope you and your beautiful family get some much needed sleep soon! And I am going to show that bed to one of my best friends...I think her son could use it (probably too pricey though!)

sugar magnolia said...

Always having a trigger finger here...that last comment was from me. ;-)

BusyLizzyMom said...

It sounds like you have been watching Super Nanny, she suggests the same approach. It took 6 months to get out of Elizabeth's room at night, everytime we would leave she would vomit. I remember how dispairing it was but I promise it gets better and by you being consistent in your approach it will pay off.

Kara Melissa said...

I'd like to figure out how to have those repeat night where my son Sebastian sleeps through, but to no avail, they happen when they happen, and it's not enough!

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