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?