Sleeping with Sensory Processing Disorder
Chloe in her crib before her big girl bed!
Where Did The Sleep Go?
One of the main problems we had with Chloe when we started this journey was her sleeping habits. Rather, lack of sleeping habits, she would bounce or jump in her crib til the wee hours of the morning and fall asleep for a short period of time and be up by 5am. When I was working full time it was really rough because I am one of those parents that cannot fall asleep until the kids are asleep. Just a habit, once I check on them and they are asleep I can finally lay my head down to rest. So I started having major problems because I just wasn't getting enough sleep and lets be honest I wasn't as young as I used to be and could pull all nighters multiple days in a row.
How We Got Our Sleep Back!
Once we found out about Chloe's sensory problems and realized that the bouncing was just part of her calm down habit we understood a little bit better. However, bouncing or jumping can have two different effects, it can calm her down but it can also rev her back up because it starts to stimulate her again. Therefore, we started the 3 month process of trying to figure out what we could do that would work for Chloe to get her to calm down at night but actually fall asleep and stay asleep.
First, we tried some different night time techniques, such as rolling an exercise ball on her and squishing between pillows. We tried the white noise, no lights, some lights. We also have a giant soft rolling pin that you can purchase just for the purpose of rolling up and down her back right before bed. This calmed her but the bouncing was still going on because as soon as we would put her in her bed she would start bouncing.
Second, we started giving her a dose of melatonin at night. Now there is a lot of debate on if it works or if it doesn't I think it just depends on the child. We started out with 1.5-2 mg 20 minutes before bed, that was the amount given to us by our doctor. In my personal experience it works about 75% of the time. It doesn't always seem to help and other nights it does, the nice thing for me was that it was natural and not a medicine or medication to help her fall asleep. I have seen from parents that the time release melatonin has worked better for them and I have yet to try this but would like to in the future so I will have to let you know how that works out for us.
Third, we got rid of her crib. We had already gone through several because of her jumping and the bottoms cracking so we ended up getting a metal platform frame that can hold high weight, not because she is overly heavy just because of the force of jumping. In addition to that we got a new mattress and it is a memory foam mattress. This for us has been the clincher!! She can't bounce on the memory foam, well she can but it doesn't have the bounce that a spring mattress would. We allow her to crash or bounce on the couch if she is feeling upset or needs to release energy and she can bounce on her sisters bed since it is reinforced as well but at night she knows that she can't bounce and that she has to go to sleep because the mattress is firm.
Chloe Sleeping in High Chair
Even though I think that the mattress has been our ticket for a more restful night I do believe that the combination of all those things have given her a better quality of sleep at night. We do the melatonin and we do the rolling, plus we have a ritual of singing two lullabies for her at night, we started doing this because she could relate those things to bedtime instead of nap time or just playing in her room. She knows that when I tuck her in and sing those two songs, Twinkle, Twinkle and You are My Sunshine, it is time for bed.
I am not saying that every night is wonderful, she is a kid and they don't like to take a nap or go to bed for fear of missing out on something, but her quality of sleep has improved and so has ours! However, if you are looking for additional ideas to help your child at night then try some of these techniques and let me know how it works for you. Please post comments or questions about anything that I have typed up and I will respond to you as soon as I can.
Thank you for taking time to read my hub!