Saturday, October 03, 2009

A new question to ponder and explore...

Jennica had massive sleep issues a few years back. If any of you parents out there have experienced sleep issues with a child, you know that this is the absolutely about the hardest thing in the world. I prefer to read about midnight in Cinderella, and not really experience it firsthand with a child still bouncing off the walls of my living room. At its worst right about the time she turned two, we thankfully found melatonin after about 5 months of nobody sleeping, and she still takes 5 milligrams every single night about 30 minutes before bedtime. Melatonin is something we make sure to never run out of. We have occasionally been able to cut the dose down, as 5 milligrams is a very large dose even for an adult, but for the most part, her brain demands the full 5 mg to do its thing. (For those of you that might not know about melatonin, it should be present naturally in all of our bodies and is released when the body is ready for sleep. Children with neuro-developmental disorders, for an as-yet-unknown reason, often don't have enough melatonin, or the melatonin they have doesn't trigger the sleep response that it should. So........its very common to supplement their bodies with melatonin to help trigger sleep. Interesting, huh?)

In any case, melatonin supplementation worked instantly with Jennica. From all outward appearances, she now sleeps normally like everyone else in our house. As long as she has her melatonin supplement. All is good, right?

Jen is suddenly struggling with staying awake in class in the afternoons. She hasn't napped regularly in over a year, so we have assumed that her brain is so exhausted by the massive sensory input that she is receiving that her brain is simply "quitting" for awhile on some days. She is typically falling asleep during afternoon circle time about 2 days per week, and the teacher is wisely allowing her the rest. We've just figured that she would slowly adjust to the sensory environment and no longer need this little nap.

But this week, we had an odd question. Does she have a sleep disorder? My instant answer was, "No. Not as long as she has her melatonin. Once she is asleep, she sleeps long and hard." But an interesting conversation followed with some interesting points that made me stop and think. Bottom line........Jennica DOES show some symptoms of a sleep disorder. Hmmmm........

So, now we have something new to check out. She appears to be sleeping normally. But is her brain really dropping into the very deep level of sleep that allows true rest? Or is she experiencing only "survival sleep"?

We are headed back to the neuro-developmentalist on October 12th. Now we've got a brand new line of questioning for him. I'm sure he'll be thrilled. :)

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