As many parents of autistic children can attest, a full night of sleep is like gold.At times, I’m awakened at 4;30 in the morning, sometimes sooner, because my son can’t sleep. As he’s gotten older, he wakes us up with his restlessness later and later, finding ways to entertain himself before coming into our room screaming obscenities in efforts to get our attention. It’s his way of saying, “Hey, get up! I’m tired of being alone now.” I know how he feels. I, too, suffer from this restlessness. This need for sleep that sometimes get disrupted and other times fails to come at all. So,how do you cope? How do you deal with the restless nights?
How to Deal with the Restless Nights
Whether it’s you that can’t sleep or your child, not getting enough sleep will eventually drive you crazy. You may roll your eyes like I do at the advice for a good night of sleep. Good sleep hygiene includes going to bed at the same time every night and backing off of the caffeine in the evenings. As moms and dads, especially those raising children who are also restless, these thing seem impossible, so I’ll give you my list of coping strategies.
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1. Don’t get angry about it
I know it’s easier said than done, but your child cannot help his/her restlessness anymore than you can handle yours. Imagine always being the only person up. I know how this feels. Lonely. Your child needs compassion. And if it’s you that’s awake, you do too. Getting mad or upset only keeps all of us awake for longer.
2. Do something productive
When I can’t sleep especially, I try to find something to do to take up the time until I begin to feel tired again. This evening, I chose to write this article. Another day, I might grade papers or read a book. If nothing else, the television is a good escape route to ease a restless mind. If you’re awake with your child, cuddling on the couch while watching something he/she enjoys can sometimes lead to sleep. That’s your cue to get to bed yourself.
3. Medication can help
There are plenty of safe medications out there to help if you or your child suffer from insomnia. You can start with Melatonin and work your way from there. Seek medical advice before trying any medications.
4. Go for a walk
What? A walk? At midnight? You must be kidding me. Yes, I’ve done it, and yes I’ve felt silly being the only person outside, but sometimes the walks tired me out just enough to help me get back to sleep. Walks can also help your restless child get back to sleep. And if you’re the only two outside to witness the sunrise, what a blessing that will turn out to be, right?
5. Resist the urge to eat
Stay way from the cabinets. The restless wanderer sometimes gets hungry in the middle of the night, but we often choose the worst foods, which only make us feel worse. Beware. The cabinet is not your friend at one in the morning. Chew some gum or something.
6. Try to relax
I know this one is hard, but sometimes some deep breathing techniques combined with some essential oils can help your restless mind head back to sleep town. Teaching your child to practice these things will help him/her as he/she gets older too. Breathe in, breathe out. Drink some Chamomile Herbal Tea. Let yourself become entranced enough to sleep.
What about you? What do you do to help on those restless nights?
I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment and give me your expert tip!