To start off, and give you a brief idea of what I am getting at here, I will just share this excerpt of an email I sent to school, attaching the sleep rules/sequence visuals we have been using - which I shared in my last post. So: "... I already said that B doesn't sleep brilliantly, I saw there was a sleep workshop - we have seen all sorts of people about this and nothing worked, I also can't make it to the workshop anyway, it's just something we have accepted.. he goes to sleep now and has a good bedtime routine, it's that he wakes up after a few hours then comes into our room. Anyway, I made a bedtime rules visual, decorated and attractive which seems to keep B in line better from previous experience, to go by his bed and bought an alarm clock, one of those light changing ones, we set it so that he can come into our room no earlier than 3am at first (he was generally getting in at 1-2ish) and changed it to 4am this week as he seemed to be sleeping a bit longer... which he has pretty much stuck to. The aim is to get him to 5.30 - when Dear Hubs gets up for work - so that he doesn't disturb everyone in the house! Don't know how long it will take, but the theory seems to be working. Just wanted to share, because I know it's a common problem..."
Secondly, I would like to pick up on where I have said that we already had/have a good bedtime schedule in place for Badger and that we have gradually overcome the difficulty of getting him to sleep. No, it's not at 7pm like a lot of my friend's children - but we have learned to accept that Badger does not need as much sleep as other children and by putting him to sleep at an earlier time - either by using melatonin and following instructions from a paediatrician or by gradually bringing forward our evening schedule - only results in him waking earlier and us ending up with zero sleep... so, I will take the 9pm/10pm sleeptime, thank you! I strenuously encourage anyone to work and work at the bedtime/evening routine before trying to make a difference to the waking up routine... if you able.
So, we now have an evening routine going... food, bath, teeth, play, orange (quiet/calm) time. He's getting off to sleep OK and we are getting an hour or two of our own quiet time before we head to bed ourselves. Great. Then, 1AM, 2AM, 3AM... he's in our bed, stomping round the room, waking everyone up and on plenty of occasions the neighbours too!
What have we done? Well, we have the visuals in the previous post. To reinforce what is expected. Then we get one of those lovely light alarm clocks... I will share what they are intended for, how they work:
Bodyclock (£44.95) is the original wake-up light, also called a dawn simulator. It wakes you gradually with increasing natural light. This is a signal for your body to ease production of sleep hormones (e.g. melatonin) and increase those that help you get up and go (e.g. cortisol). Wake-up lights help to keep your sleep cycle on track, boosting mood, energy and productivity levels all day.
Advance Sunrise Alarm Clock Brought to You by Paramount Zone (£14.95)
Having the incessant beeping of the alarm wake you from your slumber can set you off on the wrong foot for the rest of the day. The Advance Sunrise Alarm Clock offers a natural alternative that will help you wake up with a smile. Throw out your clock radio or old fashioned alarm and replace it with one of the greatest gadgets on the market today.
Control the Sun in Your Own Bedroom
With the Advance Sunrise Alarm Clock you are able to wake up gently thanks to the glow which is steadily emitted from the clock itself. This represents the natural sunrise and will ease you awake without the need of sudden loud noises or annoying music from the radio. The light begins to gradually brighten up to an hour before the time you have set the alarm to wake you up using four levels of brightness.
LED Operated Light Can Be Altered to Your Preference
Built into the alarm are natural sounds which will assist in the natural wake up process. You are able to choose from a number of different sounds including: .
- The glorious morning chorus of the birds
- Relaxing rain
- Babbling brooks
- Waterfalls with birdsong
- Waves crashing on the beach
The Advance Sunrise Alarm Clock comes with a built in calendar, easy to read screen and can even help induce a good night’s sleep. The light can be used to simulate the sunset helping you drop off into the land of nod with ease. Combine the gradually reducing light with the sounds of nature and you will be asleep in no time.
I am very impressed with the Advance Sunrise and it is good to note that you can use it to help with going to sleep, as well as with waking.
We set the time for a little later than usual waking time (so we were not going to abruptly interrupt Badger's sleep - but not so late that we were going to have to continue with the same rigmarole of putting him into his room, waiting for the alarm to light/sound! He was told, and indicated by the sequence board, that when the alarm clock went off it was "daytime" and he was free to come into Mummy and Daddy and watch the early morning cartoons or put on a DVD before getting ready for school.
As it is such a visual piece of equipment, it quickly appealed to Badger and we were able to gradually make the time later and later... we are stuck at just before 4am at the moment as when we pushed it that little bit further, he did stop paying attention and so we ended up spending a couple of nights where he ignored the instructions and reverted to his old ways... so, as 3.57 was around a 2.5 hour improvement, we have agreed that the increase in times will cease for now and in a few weeks when we raise it again, the increase will be very, very gradual.
Now, the main thing of importance - especially with Badger who is prone to bolt/elope/escape/run like a lot of children with ASD, and the biggest source of worry and sleeplessness for me - was to make sure that he was actually sleeping longer or, at the very minimum, occupied for the time between him waking and being allowed into our room. Despite keys being locked away, no windows opening and there being very little escape options left, we have learned over time that Badger wants and Badger achieves... especially if we make it a challenge. That's just how he operates. As it happens, he is sleeping longer, or he is waking and returning to sleep for short periods. He is always awake before the alarm, but from what we have witnessed (by spying) he isn't even getting out of bed. (Though, the cold autumn mornings may be the reason for this!)
All in all, we are having some success here and I tried this out as a parent I know was using this method on their 2 year old to keep them in their room for an extra hour in the mornings. At £14.95 for the Advance Sunrise Alarm on eBay, our investment has paid off, well and truly. (Links on the descriptions of each alarm clock.)