It started when Mark and I were first married. I had this silly notion that we would run on a similar schedule. In our newlywed bliss we would get up at the same time and retire at the same time. This would have worked perfectly except my sweet new husband didn’t go to bed until two or three in the morning. Regardless of when he fell asleep he was up at five or six in the morning.
I couldn’t keep pace. I was more of a minimum of eight hours of sleep person myself.
It was a whole new world for me. At the time we knew nothing of ADHD or the many orbiting conditions like insomnia. Now, I am well versed in those conditions, especially insomnia.
Mariah followed Mark. I had never heard of an infant that slept only 8 hours in a 24 hour period but that was Mariah. It was insane. Getting her to sleep became an art form. She would sleep, in the swing, in the bathroom, under the fan, for little spurts of time.
As she got older that time shrank until when she was in junior high she was only sleeping a couple of hours at night. Not healthy for her or anyone else in the family. Once diagnosed with ADHD and medicated we figured some things out.
What worked for Mariah was a small dose of stimulants in the evening. It calmed her brain down, helped her process her thoughts. It seemed like the opposite of what you might do to get someone to sleep, but it worked. It changed her world. Sleep was no longer elusive.
Of course, by then there was another to pick up the slack. His room was right off the living room and he would call out to make sure I was still up as long as he was awake. Occasionally, he would blurt out some random thought or realization.
“Why do they call it leap year?” he called out one night. “It is really only one day of one month. Shouldn’t it be leap day or leap month?” These were puzzling thoughts for a five year old late at night.
Those thoughts were over run by more troubling thoughts. They were the kind of thoughts that grow out of too much time to think and no medication to help you control your thoughts. He started worrying about fires and other “safety issues” as he calls them.
He would lay awake, after his roomy finally passed out asleep. He would eventually confide that he would picture a toy in his mind and consider if it would burn or melt in a fire. Toy after toy, it was uncontrollable self torture.
We tried a litany of medications and other solutions. Melatonin took the edge off for awhile. Taking a stimulant at night didn’t work for him. It just better focused his thoughts and increased anxiety. It was one failed attempt after another over the last several years.
In the mean time, he and his roomy had developed all these night time rituals. His poor roommate, it seemed, was being tortured by hours of activity.
Then the magic finally happened and we found what worked for our hardcore insomniac. He takes his medicine and an hour later he is asleep on a regular basis. He is sleeping. He is growing and gaining weight. Life is good.
You would think that his roomy would be finally free from hours and hours of late night sleeplessness. Not so. The strangest thing happened. Our hardcore insomniac passed out every night but his roomy didn’t.
All those nights we thought that the insomniac was keeping his roomy up. All those nights and it turns out that the roomy is just as much of an insomniac.
We waited some time to make sure it wasn’t just habit. We ran through the simple solutions; those didn’t work. Then one night the little roomy came out crying, begging for the same medicine so that he could sleep too. Insomnia is no fun alone.
The next day I made an appointment. Now all the insomniacs in the house are sleeping.