M has never been a good sleeper. I could probably count the number of times he has had a full night sleep on one hand. We have tried everything we can think of and many things that have been suggested in the hope of him staying asleep until what I would class a sensible time.
We were referred to Sleep Scotland, a charity that gives advice about sleeping problems – http://www.sleepscotland.org/. After waiting for almost 2 years, a couple of weeks ago we finally received a phone call consultation – they are based in the central belt, and staffed by volunteers, so they are not countrywide. The lady I spoke to was lovely, and listened while I explained where we were at, and the things we had tried. I think we stumped her, as most of the things she was suggesting, we either already do, or have tried to no avail. It was however useful to talk about it, and realise that while the books say at his age he should be getting a certain amount of sleep, it may just be that his body only requires the 6 hours he comfortably has. It was quite reassuring to have someone tell us we were doing the right things, and not to worry unduly about it.
We were feeling pretty comfortable after this conversation about him not suffering from lack of sleep, and while we would still work to ensure he was resting, it wasn’t a major problem.
Then his pattern changed totally. He started getting nightmares. He became frightened about everything. He wanted a torch in his bed, so that if he woke up in the night, he could check everything was alright. He would be so restless, that in the morning his duvet was almost tied in a knot and all his cuddly buddies were flung around the room. He asked if he could sleep in with us – he is 9 years old, so no longer an option, like it was when he was little and frightened. I would find soggy pyjamas in the laundry basket, where he was having accidents in the night. He was a real state. As with all situations like this, it is heartbreaking to see your baby hurting, and not being able to take the pain away for them.
We decided to get him a new bed – he had a midi-sleeper, and we got him a cabin bed, so he was lower, and therefore he could see his brother, and know he wasn’t alone at night. He was really happy about this idea. (Even better was friends of ours were looking for a midi-sleeper, so we were able to recycle the old bed!). The first night he was into the bed, he asked for cuddles as he was settling down. When both the boys were little we would get into bed with them for cuddles, and this continued a little longer for D as he had, and still does have difficulty in settling down at night, so firm cuddles gave him the reassurance he needed. It was now M’s turn for this practice, as it didn’t just happen the first night, but every night he was wanted someone there with him. This seemed to work for a few days. He was calm and settled going to sleep.
He then started talking about himself in the third person, saying “M is scared” or “M is frightened”, but when asked what he is frightened of, he can’t point to anything specific. It seems everything is worrying him. We have racked our brains to think what he has seen or heard to have worked him up so much. He does spend copious hours watching videos about Minecraft on YouTube, but we only let him watch the main players in the gaming video genre, Stampy, and Squid, because they don’t swear – although the number of times they say “Oh my God” is rather annoying. The computer in the main living room, so it’s not like he gets the chance to watch anything unsupervised. I can only assume he has somehow watched something that has frightened him to the point of it filling not just his waking mind, but also his sleeping.
At the weekend, the situation really hit a low point. Hubby was dead to the world, and I was just settling down about midnight Saturday, when in comes a rambling M. He was physically shaking, and mumbling quite incoherently. I sat up in the bed and told him to come and sit with me, I couldn’t make out a word he was saying, but he was very agitated. I put my arms around him to comfort him and he fell backwards taking me with him, pinning me to the bed, and he was sound asleep. I couldn’t move, either him or myself, and so I saw the night out with a M blanket. When he woke, he was very confused as to where he was and how he got there. It appears he must have been sleep walking, as he has no recognition of coming through, let alone the discomfort he caused me by squashing me all night!!!
Then Sunday night he didn’t want to be left alone at bedtime, and it took me almost an hour to get out of his bed – usually he falls asleep very quickly. All he kept repeating was that M was frightened. Finally I managed to get to my bed. He then appears about 3.45am, totally naked saying he didn’t know where his pyjamas had gone! He crawled in between me and hubby, threw his arms around me and was snoring instantly. This morning however, I had to change our bed as it was soaked through – the boys have mattress protectors on, I think I might have to invest in one for our bed!
During the daytime, he will tell us how frightened he is and how scary the world is. So many things just seem to be worrying him. He has never been enthusiastic about going to school, but it seems to have got so much worse with trying to get him to go. He keeps telling me he needs a day off to have Mummy time – I wish it was as easy as giving him a day off to clear his head and then he would be fine, but it isn’t, so off to school he goes. He hasn’t said there is any problems – other than the usual ones of lack of support, as school, and his teacher hasn’t communicated that he is having additional problems, so we can’t pinpoint this as a reason for his distress. Hubby and I think we will make an appointment to go in and see the school, just to make sure there isn’t something we haven’t been made aware of.
It is almost the February mid-term break – 2 days this week and 3 next, so we will try to have some fun time, so put some happy thoughts into his head. In the mean time, I think I need to be settling down at the same time as the boys of an evening if I keep having to be alert at times nobody should be seeing!!!