So after my most recent blog which detailed the issues that I faced with regards to Scarlett’s horrific sleep patterns which you can read a bit more about here. I think that has to be one of the most upsetting to read back blogs I have ever written, I definitely felt I was starting to titter on the edge of insanity.
See I know that sleep deprivation is a well known torture technique but when you actual look at the real science about how it physiological affects your brain it is quite frightening. Missing a good night’s sleep once in a while can be an inconvenience. It can leave you feeling tired and lethargic the next day, among other things. However, not getting sleep for an extended period is more dangerous. There are many implications of sleep deprivation on your health. A lack of sleep can literally wreak havoc on your body and your mind and should not be something so easily dismissed when people tell you that you are totally and utterly sleep deprived.
- Bouts of hunger, especially for sugary and fatty foods.
- Weight gain due to additional eating
- Impulsiveness with decisions
- Poor memory
- Trouble making decisions
- Feeling extra emotional
- You get sick easily
- Trouble seeing
These are just a small list of things that can happen to you when you are experiencing bouts of sleep deprivation. Looking at this list now I can see all of these things had been happening to me over the course of the three months. It just really started spilling over into every aspect of your life. As a single parent, navigating a COVID led world, with a child who has complex needs, a child who is dealing with a child with complex needs, a house, a job and some very fragile friends and family who are also experiencing problems with their own mental health- I must admit it was a very trying time. I think I am speaking so much now about the affects of sleep deprivation here as I think not enough people know how completely debilitating it can really be on your mental health and emotional well being.
Now don’t get me wrong, generally without Scarlett’s intervention sleep has never something that I have great at… but for the last ten years now (Scarlett’s age) I don’t think I can remember a week where it hasn’t been disrupted in someway, its like have a new born baby for an extended amount of time… extended by a decade! The most recent bout of Scarlett’s night time upset was that consistent and teamed with a whole host of behavioural issues to go along with it, I really did start to think that this was my life now and I had to accept that’s how it was going to be. At some points during the dead of night I even thought that she would have to go into a fully supported system where she could no longer stay in the house full time as there was no way out.
Thankfully! I have some amazing news to report- I worked with a sleep practitioner based at Scarlett’s school and we devised a whole new routine plan and after having no luck getting to see a paediatrician much to my amazement they prescribed me melatonin straight away without any hoop jumping required. Scarlett now has 6mg a night and getting her to ingest the tablets was no easy fete. Eventually after seeking lots of advice I have managed to get the tablets inside of a chocolate bourbon biscuit. I basically take them apart and squash them into the cream filling. Then put the biscuit back together and wait patiently next to her and make sure that I get all the tablets inside her. Then after that its some tickles and cuddles followed swiftly by a bath then straight into PJs and then straight to bed. I was so surprised when the first night it work… followed by the 2nd… then the third… part of me didn’t want to feel like this was something that was going to carry on, but I am now into the third week on melatonin sleep.
Once Scarlett started getting a good nights sleep everything else just started to fall into place. She is now far less frustrated and seems to be enjoying life much more. Previously she would just come to me to just ask for a massive list of things that for whatever reason she thought she wanted/needed but now she just comes for a genuine cuddle and a kiss. Sonny is so much more settled and he even said to me one morning “I am glad things are so much easier and nicer now Mum, we all seem a bit happier”.
I really feel like I’ve got the old happy all the time Scarlett back now and the weight and the pressure of seeing your child so very unhappy has started to lift. Anxiety levels have dropped, mornings are much brighter, the world is much more colourful again and the six hour shift sat on my landing putting Scarlett back in bed every ten minutes seems like a distant memory now.
It really has taught me not to give up and not to feel completely and utterly hopeless… there is always a way out, there is always a solution and sheer determination and grit does pay off in the end. You can really get anything you want if you want it enough… and I really wanted my two children to feel happy and settled and thankfully a magic wand worked for me on this occasion.
The Sandman is a traditional character in many children’s stories and books. He is said to sprinkle sand or dust on or into the eyes of children at night to bring on sleep and dreams. The grit or “sleep” in your eyes upon waking is the supposed result of the Sandman’s work the previous night. I’m just really thankful that on this occasion that the sandman that has been visiting Scarlett has been sprinkling melatonin!