Monday, January 11, 2010

Who Needs Sleep?

From the Bare Naked Ladies Song "Who Needs Sleep"

Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
that I won't sleep
I countdown, I look around

Who needs sleep?
well you're never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
tell me what's that for
Who needs sleep?
be happy with what you're getting
There's a guy who's been awake
since the Second World War

My hands are locked up tight in fists
My mind is racing, filled with lists
of things to do and things I've done
Another sleepless night's begun

Seems that sleep has always been a somewhat fleeting phenomenon around the Pandora household. As a kid, I suffered occasional bouts of insomnia, whenever something exciting like going back to school was on the horizon. My husband was such an insomniac that he almost burned his house down as a child, reading with a lamp under a flammable 1970's blanket. (Yes, he's older than I am).

In college, I would routinely be up until 2, 3, 4 5AM every night. Every morning, as I dragged my butt to class (or didn't) I would promise myself that I would go to sleep at a reasonable hour that night. Every night I would fall well shy of keeping that promise, as some drama or other always seemed to beckon my attention.

As a young couple, many of our deepest and most passionate conversations took place in the wee hours of the morning, when most people were fast asleep. Our insomnia was an aphrodisiac of sorts - we fell in love because no one else was awake. The night we met, we talked for 36 hours straight. Then we napped for about 2 hours, then went our separate ways for the day.

Our first date started at 10PM one night, took us to Denny's, Walmart and the beach, finally ending at 7:30AM, when he could no longer put off leaving for work. And 100% of that time was "pre-intimacy". All talk, no action.

Pregnancy, though planned, took us by surprised. The overwhelming exhaustion of the first trimester was horrifying, as I became essentially narcoleptic. No matter how badly I wanted to regain my swerve after that, I just couldn't. The sun went down, and so did I.

When our first child was born, we learned how to operate on the worst kind of sleep - interrupted sleep. Many a night were spent jolting in and out of the jagged kind of sleep that comes from keeping one ear open for the inevitable cried that will rouse you from your slumber ever hour or so. The boy never slept for more than 2 hours at a clip. For the first 10 months of his life, he ate every hour and a half to two hours, round the clock.

When our daughter was born, she was a sleeper. Right out of the hospital, she slept an unbelievable 5 hours at a clip, ate, then put herself back to sleep. Right up until the very moment that I went back to work. Within less than a week, she started sleeping through the day and nursing through the night, as she deemed all bottles entirely objectionable.

We co-slept for most of the next year.

Finally, once our kids hit the year and a half and 3 year mark, both of them were sleeping soundly, for 12 hours a night. And we were free to go back to our own insomniac ways. Admittedly, having kids cured me of much of the night owl ways that I used to hold so dear. Days left running from work to mommy mode left me longing for bed sometime around midnight every night, which was like turning in when the sun was still up to my former self.

Now, with the kids 6 and 8, we suddenly have a sleep problem. The boy, it seems has developed an acute case of insomnia out of NOWHERE. He was fine. A regular Rip Van Winkle, for the last 5 years. Both kids had adopted the wonderful habit of sleeping for 10-12 hours, regardless of the time that you put them down. If they went to bed at 8, they would be up around 7. If they were up until 10, they were out until at least 8:30.

All of this suddenly changed for the boy on Sunday, January 3rd. He simply could.not.sleep. No matter what he tried, he was UP. Attempts to fall asleep were fruitless. Any slumber that he did drift off to, quickly interrupted. This went on until the wee hours of the morning. He finally succumbed to a good, deep sleep around 5AM. Just in time for his alarm to go off at 7:30. Needless to say, we missed the bus that morning.

The next night was even worse, with him in hysterics because he was so worked up over his inability to fall asleep.

That morning I took to Twitter and Facebook with my sleep deprived angst over what to do. I was greeted with a plethora of suggestions, ranging from giving him melatonin to rubbing him down with lavender. There were suggestions of massage, meditation and letting him read.

We decided to let him read. Which seemed to work. Sort of.

The first night with the lamp and the book he was asleep for good around 1AM.

The next night it was closer to 11:30PM.

The next night he was up about eleventy million times, but then Saturday night, he was asleep by 9:10PM and slept straight on through until about 8AM.

So we thought we were finally in the clear last night.

Not even close.

So now I ponder, what is at the root of the problem. Is something bothering him (he says no)? Or has he just inherited insomnia from dear old mom and dad? Do I move on to something more radical, like giving him melatonin, or do we just whether the storm, remain calm and keep the pressure off until his body regulates itself again?

This is the part of parenting that stinks.

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