Help outfit Michael, Sarah, and John

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bedtime issues

We are having bedtime issues. Kristina has to have the room completely DARK to be able to sleep - Anna has to have light, so we've been separating them until they're both asleep and then moving into the same bed together. Since Kristina will get up and play in their room - she is the one who is falling asleep in another bed. Well...now she is getting up in that room (master bedroom) and playing with whatever is in there (not a good idea). She cries when we put her to bed - could it be nightmares? Could she just not need a lot of sleep? So tonight we're putting her in the guest room - which is also the tv room and the computer room...lots of breakable things...isn't sounding like a great idea...

Meanwhile, Keith is becoming more mobile than ever. He somehow gets out of his bed - a daybed with a railing on all sides - and is playing on the floor. Last night at 1am - yes, you read that right, and yes, I was awake - I heard something in his room and found him WIDE AWAKE on the floor playing with toys. I don't know what to do. He HATES to go to bed. Kristina HATES to go to bed. Is it possible that they just don't need sleep???

7 comments:

Melisa said...

I need help with this too! My only thought is to make sure they are tired at bedtime. Get them up earlier in the morning or don't let them nap. Other than that, I wish I knew what to do too!

Marnie and Jeremy said...

Jylyanna requires very little sleep. She naps at day care so she won't go to bed until 10:30-11:00 at night. Try to cut back or eliminate nap time and see if that helps. Good luck!

Courtney said...

I'd be VERY surprised if they didn't need the sleep. Their bodies may still not have adjusted to the time change. When we brought our guys home (4.5 and 5.5 at the time) they needed 12+ hours of sleep, often with a nap in addition! Their bodies were working so hard as were their brains that they were exhausted. If Kristina is not sleeping well this could also explain some of her other behaviors--she may be overtired. Other adoptive families have used natural sleep aids with success, but we just kept it consistent and let them know in no uncertain terms that they were not be out of bed. They also sleep in the same room, so I think it was comforting for them to have each other in there, and may have made it easier for them to be willing to stay in bed.

Saquel25 said...

There is NO WAY they don't need the sleep. It's a medically documented fact that they need 10-12 hours of sleep a night at that age. Consider the life they have led up until now and the stimulation/freedoms they are now experiencing. They are probably excited and overstimulated. The best thing to do is to be completely consistent. Put them to bed at the same time every night and simply tuck them back in again when they get up. Eventually things will normalize I'm sure. I've caught my kids up in the middle of the night after an event such as Christmas and they have new toys. Being strict about these things isn't easy but the health benefits for the child outweigh the hassle.

Diana said...

I agree with others - there's NO WAY they don't need sleep, and there's NO WAY you don't either. This is one issue that will only make everyone more and more crazy until it's under control, too.

Here's a few sugggestions I can offer:

1. They are terrified. They may look all smiley and happy, but dont' let it fool you. There is a reason they are waking up in the middle of the night. It may be night terrors, it may be night mares, or it may even be flashbacks. Any of them could be likely causes for them to wake up.

2. As for staying awake or getting up to play with toys, this is very likely about survival. When they're there playing with their toys, they are fully aware of everything going on in their environment, they can clearly see when and if the boogie men are coming and can appropriately defend themselves if necessary, and last but not least, it is a situation in which THEY are fully in control.

3. I wouldn't have Kristina and Anna sleeping in the same bed. Having the girls in the same room is fine, but they each need their own bed. Anna will sleep better, and Kristina has likely never shared a bed. If you're going to have Kristina co-sleep, it should be with you for attachment reasons. I would also not let Kristina fall asleep in one place and then move her. That will only make sleep issues worse...and is a sure-fire recipe for a multiple nightmare night with my kids. As for the light thing, put Kristina to be 1/2 hour earlier than her big sister so she's asleep by the time big sis is ready for bed.

4. There are very likely reasons they hate going to bed. Refer back to #1 for any questions. Bedtime is a time when they feel vulnerable, out of control, unsafe, insecure, abandoned, and to top it all off, they were very likely punished at orphanage bedtime or for waking up and making noise to boot. They're very likely conditioned to survive nighttime rather than sleep it away.

5. As for schedules, they very likely still need naps. Try waking them up earlier in the morning, napping them in the late morning, and putting them to bed earlier.

I also HIGHLY recommend that no one goes out for any evening activities at least not for several more months. This is especially important for mom and the two little ones. As much as possible, everyone needs to be home to stay no later than 6:00, send all guests home before this, do dinner, do family time, and then put the kids to bed. Yes, it is restrictive. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it requires a lot of sacrifice. But it's all part of making their world very small for the time being. It will, however, pay off in big ways in the not too distant future. Our sleep issues are finally starting to disapate after 18 months. They're still a big deal, don't get me wrong about that. But we are finally starting to see some improvement. I will say, nowever, that while we are to a point now that we can handle a few evening activities, Even now it is still TOUGH on our family for either me or the whole family to partipate in any evening activities (this includes everything from shopping to church stuff, by the way.) It still throws everything off kilter for days afterwards.

6. One last suggestion is to take all the toys out of their rooms. Make their rooms as low stimulous environment as possible. It doesn't have to be stark and steril, but keep it to soft and muted colors, move all the toys to a central location in the house, get rid of any fru-fru fluff stuff, and go to the bare bones for furninture - beds, dresser, and a rocking chair in both kids rooms so if you need to rock them, you can do it right there in the dark. It really helps to establish their rooms as a safe place.

Michelle said...

I'm learning a lot from your great questions and the answers people give. I have a little to add to the sleep issue.

My biological son has an autism disorder and sleep was a major problem for us for a while. Three things brought amazing help.

1) Warm epsom salt bath every night. Their skin soaks in the magnesium sulfur and it is very calming to their system.
2) Eliminate any dyes and chemicals from the diet. These act on some kids like a drug and keep their system revved up. Look up "feingold diet" for more info.
3) Melatonin is a natural supplement that worked wonders for Luke. Look for it PLAIN - not flavored, and not with vitamin B added (which is common). Our bodies naturally produce melatonin when it gets dark and we recognzie that it is time to start falling asleep. Some systems don't do this on a routine as they should. The time change could be the issue, or simply their chemicals/hormones can be out of balance. Taking 1-3 mg of melatonin about 20 minutes before bed helps the body begin that natural process. It does NOT keep you asleep, it simply helps you fall asleep naturally. And unlike sleep MEDICINES, after using it at the same time every evening for a period of time, you gradually require less and less to be effective (rather than more).

hope it was helpful!

Amy said...

I have to agree with many of the items that Diana posted. The issue of stimulation is HUGE! It is so hard to remember that these kiddos came from a place where there was little or none... and what they did receive was carefully moderated. Routine is so ingrained in these kiddos - structure is very important for all of you right now!
I would also seperate the girls out of one bed until your get bedtime issues settled. Twin beds would be more ideal - as they would have their own space.
We have been giving our boys melatonin for a while now. It really does help and has no side effects.
A few other ideas would be to take the toys away about 30-45 minutes before bed time. Either they can look at books or you can read to them. Also axe tv time about an hour before bed - for many kids - this is way too stimulating!
I am assuming these kids took naps in Ukraine... I would think about the schedule that the orphanage had - and put the kids on that. If naptime was right after lunch - then try it.
If you have the ability to stagger wake up times in the morning - that is helpful as well. All of my kids get up between 6 and 6:30. My oldest is up at 6, the middle at 6:15 and my 3year old at 6:30. This allows each child their own time to wake up and be ready to start the day.
Good luck to you!