In honor of T-man's birthday, I want to discuss the phenomenal improvement that he has made in the area of sleep since his last birthday but most especially since the beginning of 2016. WOW! WOW! WOW!
It is still NOT great but it is TOTALLY the best it has ever been in his 6 short years of life. Let's review his past first! Up to about 4.5 years old, Trenton would go to sleep around 8 or 9 at night and wake up at midnight and run around the house crazy till roughly 5 AM and then go back to sleep till 7. Some nights I was never able to go to bed because I was taking care of Andrew and this was going on while Andrew was having sleep problems. Many of nights I would just go from one kids bedroom to the other helping them with their sleep problems. Some nights my only shut eye was from ten to midnight. This is no joke folks! I drove a lot at night....drove the country roads trying to put him to sleep. I can't put in words what I have went through with Trenton with his sleep. Simply can't describe it.
He was and is a pacer. He paces the length of the house many nights before he can settle his body down enough to sleep. He used to fall asleep in his swings, on the floor of the living room, kitchen, bathroom, you name it but it was everywhere except for his bed. I went on an average of two hours of sleep a night and had to drive and spend two hours in the car daily getting him to and from therapy the next day after little sleep.
I know what sleep deprivation is and it is very detrimental to a person. Two years ago my body started to tell me that it couldn't do it anymore. My body had enough...four years of no sleep and it took a toll on my body. My heart had developed an irregular heartbeat and stated to have some issues in the way it beat. I had three scary hospital visits during that year. Flash forward two years later, I still have to see a cardiologist and always will and it was all because of sleep deprivation and the toll of taking care of a child with severe autism who doesn't sleep.
Trenton's sleep started to go through periods where it was good after he turned four years old. He would give me breaks. For example, he wouldn't sleep good for two months and then he would sleep fairly good for two weeks and it would go back and forth. Good sleep for Trenton during this time was falling asleep around midnight and up at 5 AM.
What he had to do to fall asleep is another thing that is hard to put in words. I heard his upset noises while he paced the house, he would scream, he would cry, he would meltdown and then he would run around the house laughing at absolutely nothing. He would do this for four hours before he would fall asleep.
Right around one year ago, his sleep again slowly was getting even better. He would give me a longer "good period".
The link below is a post from exactly one year ago. As you can see, his sleep was still not good but I was not as sleep deprived.
So, here we are now and we are even better than we were one year ago!!!! This year has been the best ever for his sleep!!! It still isn't good and would be considered terrible to many but it is FANTASTIC for us! He falls asleep in his bed and about 75% of his nights he will sleep for a consecutive 6 hours. (If I could get both boys on the same sleep schedule so I could get 6 hours then it would really be good.) He wakes up really early majority of the time. We almost always start our day by 4 AM. However, it feels great! I am tired every single day but it is not sleep deprivation like it was. The damage was already done and I will live the rest of my life taking medications for my irregular heartbeat. However, we are in a great phase and 2016 has been the best ever for us in this area.
I think some of it has to do with the consist, strict bedtime routine that we do every single night. Since it is just me, I do things with no distractions at all. It seems to have really helped both boys. It may be because he is getting older and that we are also on the right medications now. I am sure its a combination of all of it. Whatever it is, I love it and I do whatever I can to make sure our routine gets followed as much as possible in order to get some sleep. The slightest change in his schedule can cause a terrible phase of sleep.
When I think of Trenton and all of his trials, I always get teary eyed. The one area that gives me a numb feeling when I think about what him and I have went through with his sleep. It is an emotional feeling....a feeling of amazement of what him and I have went through.....a feeling of shock that that was part of my life and still is but mostly shock of thinking of the worst times and how we survived....disbelief that we went through that and still do at times.
The numb feeling I had on my face daily from sleep deprivation was terrible. I wanted to run from everyone because I didn't even have the energy to smile. I didn't have the energy to enjoy the good times when they happened because I was so deprived of sleep I just couldn't focus on it. Needless to say when other people talk about being tired I quietly think, "You have no idea what tired is really like." LOL!
I literally could talk for hours on this subject. This area has really made me grow as a person in the area of strength and perseverance. It is a bond that I have with Trenton. Only the two of us know exactly what we have went through and the other autism parents who go through it with their child. It is a very special bond that was made out of a lot of tears, heartache, sleep deprivation, and much more.
I love to look at him sleeping. I always have and always will.
Mommy is so proud of you T-man. Keep up the amazing improvements! Love you always and forever!