Sunday, May 17, 2009
I've spent LOTS of time online researching sleep issues with children, and looking for sleeping tips for Paige. Nothing seemed to be helping. We recently saw a specialist, and so I thought I'd keep track of our journey here, in case it might help someone else.
Two months ago, after several restless nights, I called Paige's pediatrician about her sleeping (or lack there of.) I knew there were several things that could be causing anxiety, leading to her not wanting to go to sleep. We have recently moved into a new home, she has a "big girl bed" for the first time, and she's in her own room for the first time. However, once we got her to sleep, we had trouble keeping her asleep. She woke with night terrors and nightmares. She would often end up needing to move to our room in the middle of the night, sleeping on a little foam Ariel sofa beside our bed. She has been having issues with constipation, which I thought might bother her more at night. She turned four, and monsters became prominent. There was so much going on, I wasn't sure what I was battling any more - getting her into the bed, keeping her there, getting her to fall asleep, getting her to stay asleep, getting myself some sleep?
We tried soothing bedtime routines. We tried having music on, the fan on, special stuffed animals that watched over her, dream catchers, nightlights, pictures of us on the nightstand next to her. We had just bought some walkie-talkies after I read a suggestion about having her have some so she feels she could contact us at any time. The ones we got didn't work so well, so we didn't get too far with that.
I read A LOT online about nightmares, night terrors, bedtime anxiety, monsters, etc. Most recently, all that seemed to work was Super Nanny's Sleep Separation Technique. The idea here was that one of us would sit on what became known as the "sleeping pillow." We would not talk to Paige, but we would sit there, on the pillow, near the bed, until she fell asleep. We would then move the pillow a little bit further away from the bed each night. According to Super Nanny, eventually you can move the pillow to the door, and then out the door. Paige would only let us get just so far away with the pillow, before she'd ask us to move it closer to the bed again. But this seemed the only way to get her to go to sleep, accompanied with a children's benedryl tablet each night to help her wind down.
This still wasn't perfect, however. Paige would often take a long time to settle down, and I could be sitting in her room for over an hour trying to get her to sleep. If I thought she was asleep and tried to sneak out when she wasn't asleep, she would cry and call out for me to come back. One night I talked to her about trying to go to sleep, and she told me, "I don't know how." My poor girlie was exhausted, as was the rest of the household - and cranky too. Many nights she'd go to sleep, only to wake up in the middle of the night looking for me, or for whoever had sat with her that evening to go to sleep. Some night's she'd want me to sit in her room in the middle of the night to get back to sleep. Other nights she'd end up in my room for the rest of the night.
Then, last Monday, we finally had our appointment at the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders.