There have been several other blogs recently about gifted and lack of sleep. In all honesty, many parents suffer from lack of sleep when they have kids. But, I have to say, our son has never needed the same level of sleep as others. He was never sleep deprived nor acted like he needed more. However, we as his parents have been sleep deprived. And even now that DS is 8, he still gets less sleep than others. What I know now is that getting/needing less sleep is a characteristic of gifted children and adults.
So here are our sleep woes:
- DS never slept through the night. Not joking on this. I think he has only slept without waking up during the night less than 10 times since birth.
- DS dropped multiple naps a day shortly after turning one and dropped all naps shortly after turning two. Now, can’t say wasn’t too surprised as both me and hubby dropped naps early. But, given his intensity at a young age, certainly would have appreciated napping longer! In addition, many of our friends had kids napping well past age 4. Nope, not our child.
- DS used to wake up many times during the night and would wake us up too. Sometimes it was sleepwalking. Sometimes it was with questions to unanswered thoughts. Sometimes it was night terrors. Sometimes it was reflux (GERD, which he never outgrew). Okay you get the point, he woke up a lot when he was younger. He is now down to one to two wakings. This is huge progress.
- DS’s brain does not shut off. Seriously, it doesn’t. On most mornings he wakes up right where he left off with questions or comments regarding what he read or was discussing the night before. He is constantly thinking. He is the only person I know that will wake up and discuss plans and topics of his interest immediately; even if we are not fully awake. We thought it would lessen with age. Nope, hasn’t changed one bit. We’ve tried to tell him to write his ideas down that he has in the middle night but he won’t. Maybe we need to do a tape recorder. We do use a tactic called detective thinking to help counter those fears or negative concerns that pop up. We can’t turn off his brain. We can only help him develop calming and relaxation techniques.
What I do know is that the norm isn’t normal for gifted kids. And, the sleep books out there don’t apply to gifted kids. Seriously, I have read so many books on sleep in children and sleep training. Some methods will say they are not to be used on babies with reflux. But what we did learn was none worked with our gifted child either. And, oh did we try so many methods and modifications of methods. Even our pediatrician said we just need to do whatever works for our family so everyone gets sleep. Of course he also told us that as long as our son wasn’t showing signs of sleep deprivation (which he doesn’t) and is getting sleep, he wasn’t concerned. What does work is doing our own thing, not what the books say.
DS needs his bedtime routine, even when we are traveling. He really does need that winding down time away from others and just chilling with mommy or daddy and bedtime stories. He sleeps better when he has a bath/shower. He sleeps better in cooler temperatures. He sleeps better when he gets lots of fresh air or outdoor time. He sleeps the best when he gets to sleep with us (kid loves it when in hotels with king size beds or in tent with all of us). He sleeps the best when we stay calm with him before bedtime and in the middle of night when he wakes up. Point is, our son still sleeps less than other kids his age. We don’t fight it, but accept it as another characteristic of our son. We also know we need to do what works for us so that we all get sleep. We also know we are not alone on the sleep deprived parent journey!