“We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” – William Shakespeare
I was going to complain about the weather in this entry, in the wake of Winter Storm Stella who just dumped over two feet of snow here this week and closed schools for two days in multiple states in the Northeast. And because I seem to gripe about the winter at least once a year in this forum. So I was reviewing past blogs, ruminating about how little I enjoy winter, how much the switch back from daylight savings time blows, and a little voice says to me, “Mama? My stomach hurts and I can’t sleep.”
Facepalm. It’s after 10pm as I’m writing this, and school is most definitely on for tomorrow. And this is the third (or fourth?) time she’s come down the stairs. Because her tummy was growling and needed a piece of cheese. Because she needed to tell me that she was going to the bathroom. Because she needed some water.
And all of that came after an hour of cajoling, bribing, threatening, and talking until my patience was reduced to smaller than a micron. Because she wanted to sleep in her sister’s room. Because she wanted me to read one more chapter of “Judy Moody”. Because she was going to sleep on the floor in her closet and not come out EVER, or until Saturday.
And THAT was after a whole day of being home, watching too much TV in the morning, playing in the snow for a couple of hours, being super helpful and cleaning up some toys and clothes, and then being pissy about dinner, because that’s just how she do.
This is pretty typical for my second born, my little butterfly. She can 180 in a matter of seconds from being the most loving, funny, charismatic child you could ever meet to being the most difficult…um, I mean “spirited” child on the planet.
But it’s this sleep thing that really troubles me. She employs every delay tactic known to humankind. She will sometimes say goodnight and then I hear her playing or books dropping long after I’ve come downstairs. She will sneak into my bed at any hour of the night because she’s “had a bad dream”. And then getting her up and ready for school in the morning can be something akin to that scene from “The Exorcist”, complete with the screaming, cursing, head spinning and projectile vomiting. Okay, I’m completely exaggerating, but it’s really not a pretty sight.
I have tried everything “they” suggest. Keeping to a routine between dinner and bedtime. Not eating too late. No sugar/caffeine. No electronics for at least 3 hours before bedtime. Reading and snuggling together. Rewarding bedtime compliance, consequences for non-compliance. It doesn’t matter. She’s still a pita about bedtime at least 5 nights out of 7.
Why does this concern me so much? Because, well, sleep is important! For her growing body and brain, for her state of mind, for her mood and behavior, and because it cuts me to my I Really Want to be a Good Mom and Make Sure My Kids Eat Well, Sleep Well, are Safe and Don’t Grow Up to be Jerks soul to see her so often with dark circles under her eyes.
I’ve seen that other parents swear by melatonin supplements for helping to get their children to sleep. In case you don’t know, melatonin is a hormone made naturally by the pineal gland in your brain, which helps regulate your sleep cycle. And, obviously, it is also manufactured as a supplement–they even sell melatonin gummies for children! And although I’ve been tempted, especially on those nights when it doesn’t seem that sleep is ever going to visit my child, I have serious reservations. I haven’t found enough research about melatonin and children and possible negative or positive effects. And the thought of giving my child a manufactured hormone just doesn’t sit well with me. While I’m a proponent of science and medical research, and I’m definitely not opposed to better living through chemistry, I just can’t find enough information to feel like I’d be making a fully educated decision.
So that leaves me with a chronically sleep-deprived child, concerns about her well being, and heaps of mom guilt. Fellow parents, can you help me? Did you have a poor sleeper that you were able to turn into a good one? Any suggestions, resources, thoughts would be most welcome!
Although now it’s 11:30pm, she’s been quiet for almost an hour, and I should be in bed myself. Yet, here I am, wide awake. Do I wonder where she gets it from?
(I wish either of us slept this well!)