It’s 3 a.m. and an elbow just hit me in the face. For the third night in a row, I’m up in the middle of the night because our 5-year-old has extreme insomnia and anxiety. When she was tiny, I swore she would NEVER sleep in our bed.
She slept amazingly well in her crib and slept through the night starting around four months old. We all slept better in our own rooms and we would joke that we had the easiest baby ever, she slept 10-12 hours every night. But at age 3.5, she started to have serious trouble sleeping. I’m talking extreme insomnia. And if she can’t sleep much that means I don’t sleep much. And I NEED sleep.
So after trying truly everything we could imagine for the last two years, we have moved her bed into our room and we now have one giant family bed.
It isn’t ideal at all. Hence I’m up at 3 a.m., but it’s better than getting zero sleep! It’s all about survival now. Our daughter was formally diagnosed with ADHD (Sensory Processing Disorder and Anxiety) last year and a by-product of these things is trouble sleeping. Severe trouble sleeping, not just the run-of-the-mill preschooler who has a nightmare every now and then. Sometimes she’s up for three days straight, sleeping 1-2 hours a night if we are lucky. Extreme insomnia is no joke.
As you can imagine, this takes a toll on the whole family. My husband has to leave for work at 4 a.m. every day, so I try to shoulder the majority of the burden of her insomnia and some days that means I’m operating on an hour or two of sleep, max. It’s not been a fun roller coaster to be on.
We have tried ALL the things. When I say ALL the things, I mean ALL the things. Every single suggestion you could imagine, we’ve tried! Nighttime routines, cutting out sugar, essential oils, lullabies, nightlights, bedtime stories times 1,000, even having her room blessed. I could write a 500-page paper on all the things we’ve tried. As much as people are trying to help, the constant “suggestions” on what to try to get her to sleep just become even more exhausting.
We know our child and have been at this for two years now. We have tried it all, we don’t need suggestions, we need sleep. So we bit the bullet and moved her bed into our room and after multiple doctor and therapist appointments, we started her on medication as well. The combination of medications, vitamins, and sleeping in-between us seems to help. We now get to sleep at night, not a ton, but MUCH more than we’ve been sleeping.
She still wakes up every night at least once or twice but as long as we are there, she falls back to sleep quickly.
And we are now surviving. Her behavior problems are disappearing at school because she’s no longer utterly exhausted and we are clocking maybe 5-6 hours a night, which is amazing for us! It’s still a work in progress and I’m shooting for that elusive 8 hours of sleep, but I’m happy we’ve made it this far.
I was adamant when she was little that we would never have a kid in our bed, but like SO many things in parenting, there are no black and white situations. Parenting is constantly living in the grey. What works for one child falls short for another. We’ve learned to adjust and grow with our daughter and I’ve learned to never say never. At the end of the day, I think all parents are just trying to survive and raise the best humans they can.
So for now, I’ll scoot over and let her sleep in the middle, take an occasional elbow to the face, and we will make it through until she starts trying to go on dates someday and then she can fight her Dad on that one. Now, it’s off to dreamland for a few but not before I send good vibes to anyone who has a kid in their bed or an elbow in the face right now. We can do hard things, parents. Just keep swimming.