Sep 182011

Like many children with sensory processing disorder, my son- I’m going to start calling him MeMe so that I can stop saying “my son” and “he” all the time-  lies awake in bed for hourrrrs.

MeMe usually falls aleeep around 9 PM. That doesn’t sound so bad, I know, but he’s a kid who needs 10-12 hours. He would need to sleep until about 7-9 AM to be his best for the day. School starts at 9, and most mornings he’s up at 6:45 AM, sometimes 7:30. So we are doing pretty good. It used to be much worse when he was still a toddler.

Also, in the summer, when he had his days filled up with social/play time, he would fall asleep much later. My guess is that he needed more time to process his day, including his social interactions.

He’s always had white noise (fan) on and it didn’t seem to make a difference. I’ve never tried a weighted blanket but MeMe told me this morning that he didn’t have his heavy comforter last night (because he had decided to sleep in his brother’s bed) and that he woke up at 3 AM to get back to his own bed with his good blanket that he needs to always sleep with. Fine, I’ll take it from him, and I’m happy he can verbalize this need. I understand it because I also like heavy blankets.

MeMe, like his siblings, falls asleep listening to a cd. I used to allow them to choose music or stories, and then I quickly realized that music hypes MeMe up big time! He’d be dancing and singing in his bed, performing loud enough for the whole house to hear him. So my other children can still choose songs or stories before bed, but they mostly choose stories anyway.

I know that a child who is used to falling asleep to a cd can have difficulty sleeping when a cd isn’t available for whatever reason (when spending time away from home, if the cd player is broken, etc). I allowed this crutch because I figured the pros outweigh the cons:

1) The cd’s keep my children entertained in their beds and they aren’t constantly running out of bed or calling me to their room- they aren’t bored and they stay in bed. This is a huge advantage to mothers like myself who need quiet by and after bedtime.

2) The kids get ready for bed quickly and run to be first in bed- because I have a rule that the first one in bed gets to choose which cd goes on. We avoid fights by compromising and choosing which cd will go on when the first one is over.

3) MeMe in particular needs practice with his general comprehension and thinking skills. He doesn’t enjoy being read to or reading much, and so this is some extra practice for his auditory listening skills, comprehension of both small details as well as the bigger picture, and each story opens up a new world for him. He has some rigid thinking so not much imagination comes through, and so this will help him in the long run.

Now years back when I tried solving his sleep issues, I bought this wonderful cd called: Snuggle Down and Say Goodnight. I thought it would teach him relaxation and deep breathing skills, and it has soft, relaxing music. Without knowing what would happen, I told him I bought a cd which would help him sleep, and it kind of freaked him out. He must have thought the cd would put him to sleep. He never allowed me to turn it on for him, but my other children have really enjoyed it (yeah, the ones without sleep problems). Other parents give it great reviews on Amazon too.

Here it is on Amazon. You can also download it for like 5 bucks or something, or download single songs for .99.

Just don’t play it in a car because it is relaxing enough to lull the driver into sleep. Please use it safely and wisely!

We do have days that MeMe is still awake at 9 and I have to tell him that he will be staying home the next day is he isn’t sleeping within 30 minutes. It’s worked every time. I am happy that he knows how to quiet his anxieties and force himself to fall asleep. It’s a blessing for all of us. Nobody wants to know him on the days he hasn’t slept. The nickname “Master Crank” comes to mind.

Lately, MeMe has started throwing fits about sleeping in his room alone, although he’s always slept alone. This is a new anxiety that has surfaced, and he played musical beds every night for a while until last night when he decided he must sleep in his own bed where his “good” (meaning, heavy) blanket it.

So we’ll see what happens tonight, every  night around here is an adventure!


How long does it take your SPD child to fall asleep? What sensory things must he/she have to fall asleep? Which anxieties interfere with your SPD child’s bedtime?

 Posted by at 12:55 pm

  5 Responses to “Sleep, Wonderful Sleep”

  1. My oldest son is like this too. I feel like your MeMe is my 2 boys combined. Poor you!

    My oldest is a very wound up, intense kid, has trouble with transitioning. I think his auditory processing might be lagging, but his motor skills, reading, etc are all good. He does feel physical pain more deeply than my other kids (a hanging nail will make him cry), but he’s not as sensitive. My second is a touchy-feely kind of kid, doesn’t like certain sensations, is not as coordinated, can’t handle loud noises, but is very socially outgoing and can brush off an injury after getting a bit of TLC — though he is more sensitive emotionally if he’s bullied or what not. He can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I can’t imagine having all of this in one kid!

    Anyway, my oldest also has a VERY hard time falling asleep. As an infant, he’d moan himself to sleep (not cry it out, but just a way to express whatever is stuck inside of him and wind down)….now (at 6) he can spend hours lying awake, trying to fall asleep reading or listening to a tape (I have a portable tape recorder since he shares a room with 2 other siblings and this way the others can sleep) — whether music or story — and getting comfortable.

    I’m really trying to work out different solutions, but having a very hard time getting him to fall asleep at a reasonable time. He is never asleep before 9 PM lately (in bed long before then), and I have to wake him up (sleeps through his alarm) which makes morning routine so much harder. When kids wake up on their own, I find they can drag themselves out of bed all that much easier and get dressed, etc. It’s a good thing he’s a fast dresser, but it’s so, so stressful. He’s out the door at 8:30. And when many nights he falls asleep after 10, it’s just not enough sleep. He had tantrums because of this the past week, and he’s too old for them!! (Completely irrational ones, definitely due to being tired.)

    I’d love to read more on this topic if you find any other ideas that work. I’m almost starting to think of looking into homeopathy for sleep for him, but I’d rather teach him how to fall asleep without one specific crutch than rely on external supplementation…

    Most standard ideas don’t work since transitioning is so hard for him. Taking a shower/bath before bedtime is just one more activity to wind down from. I do make sure he gets out his energy earlier (e.g. bike riding) but those days are dwindling with the cold winter coming in. Sigh.

    • Would you try melatonin for your oldest?

      In case I haven’t written this yet, let me tell you what happened with my second oldest who could not fall asleep, worse than my oldest son. It was remarkable. Anyway, we took him to a kinesiologist (a kind of chiropractor) for allergy testing and happened to mention this. He did a 30 second massage on my son’s head, and explained about the gland in the brain that differentiates between night and day, and signals to the body when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. (I can’t remember the name of the gland right now, it starts with a “P,” I’ll have to get back to you.) He told us that in some people it just doesn’t function the way it should. From then on, my son has been able to fall asleep and wake up perfectly, like everybody else! Even better than everyone else, LOL. He is my only child who actually sleeps through the night here, goes to sleep in his bed, and wakes up there. This was over two years ago.

      I’ve also seen vitamin complexes on the market, designed for helping your child sleep. Why not try it for a few weeks, and see what happens? I know you’d rather he just learn to do it on his own, but in the meantime, he’s having a tough time from the lack of sleep.

      Is he a deep sleeper? I know that when I bought an alarm clock for myself (I don’t use it anymore- who needs an alarm clock when you have kids?) I bought the one with the loudest alarm. All of the regular alarm clocks I sleep right through.

      I started being a huge fan of fish oil. For kids with anxiety, motor coordination issues, sensory disorders, fish oil helps all of that. It helps the brain function smoothly with all of these types of things. Also the B-vitamins, specifically magnesium.

      How about a calcium deficiency as well? Low calcium levels can cause insomnia too.

  2. Thanks for your response.

    Melatonin was one of the things I was thinking of. Someone else suggested looking into chamomile pellets to help him calm down.

    I don’t think his body can’t differentiate — he can wake up in the morning just fine, provided he got enough sleep. He’s up by 8 on his own at the latest, but on school mornings he has to be up earlier. If he doesn’t fall asleep too late, he’s up before 7. We actually got him the alarm clock to know when he was allowed to come out of bed 🙂
    It’s just lately he falls asleep late and therefore isn’t ready to wake up when he needs to. He doesn’t sleep through the alarm — he’s not a deep sleeper at all — but rolls back over and goes back to sleep.

    How palatable is fish oil supplementation for kids? My boys are very picky eaters. My oldest is a carnivore, and my second is a dairy/carb guy. I do give vitamins, so I’m not sure that he is deficient in calcium. He’s not insomniac, per se, as he is falling asleep and not wide awake, but he can’t get over that hurdle to make it to dreamland. (But I wonder if that’s why I had a hard time falling asleep the past 2 nights; maybe my calcium supply is running low! Thanks for that info.)

    • I got this liquid orange-flavored fish oil recently, started my kids on it, nervously. When I opened the bottle, it stunk like old fish. I was sure they’d never take it. I looked at the ingredients, it said: Salmon. That was quickly obvious by the smell. So here’s what I did. On the first few days I put just a drop in orange juice, everyone drank it without complaint, except for one child. The next day I did the same thing, and gave it before they ate, when I knew they were thirsty. The child who refused it the day before (because it does cause the orange juice to stink), drank it right down without complaint. The next day there were all drinking their orange juice with the right dosage of fish oil inside- no complaints.

      Now I don’t usually by orange juice because of the expense so I switched to putting it in applesauce. The kids loved it, no complaints, even though it had an orange tinge. A few days later, I asked them who’d like to take their fish oil straight off the spoon, everyone agreed to except for one. I gave them a drink of orange juice right after they took their fish oil to get rid of the oily feel from their mouth. It also gives them an old fish breath, by the way.

      Ever since then, they all take it straight off the spoon. Today was the first day my “stubborn” one took it off the spoon and he didn’t even flinch. Sometimes they’ll hold their nose because of the stench, but mostly not.

      Basically it was a lot easier than I thought it would be!

      By the way, I once put a spoonful of the fish oil into applesauce and tried to eat it the way my kids did, and it was so gross I almost threw up. Taking it off the spoon is a lot better than mixing it into foods, in my opinion.

      Good luck with the melochews! Let me know what happens!

  3. Ok, I just bought a big bottle of Mel-O-Chews. I hope he likes the flavor, being very picky. I figure it can’t hurt. The worst it can do is nothing. The best it can do is help him settle.

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