"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sleep freedom......

I woke Milly at 12.40 pm today...
As I went up the stairs, I heard the voice in my head ( not sure where it comes from but it pops in now and again with unhelpful comments! ) saying, Oh my god, look at the time! She has wasted the best part of the day, she'll be turning night into day, how will she ever learn to get up and do a job of work if she lounges around all day and stays awake half the night!!

 I listened to the voice and decided I would examine the thoughts later. I let them go and went to gently wake Milly.
As we went to bed at midnight last night Milly decided to get in a bath. She had a sore throat and was feeling cold. I gave her a hug and said to come through if she needed anything. I heard her going to bed and heard her coughing til about one thirty, when it all went quiet.
I woke around 9 and after listening to a guided meditation I got up and got on with my day. I browsed online whilst having breakfast and then got on with jobs. Washed up, hoovered round, dusted the sun room, groomed the pooch - thought she was going to be bald the amount of hair she was shedding! Mopped the floors and hung some washing. Cleared some paperwork and made some calls. I am not a crafty type, otherwise I could have used that time to make something. I could have baked - there were many ways I could have chosen to fill in my time.  Not all days look the same. I wasn't just hanging around waiting for Milly to wake.
It might not be long before she will be confident enough for me to leave her and I will be able to go into town, do some shopping, visit the library etc whilst she snoozes.
Milly has her own rhythm. She always has. When she was little we didn't have a set bedtime for her, but we were very in tune with when she was tired ( this *usually* happened around the same time each night ) . We also knew that she needed a routine to sleep or else she would just keep going and going. We had stories downstairs to wind down and then a bath ( usually together ) we followed that with massage and more snuggles and stories in bed, then we would lay with her, singing to her as she fell asleep. She wasn't a child who fell asleep easily. It's a long story, but the shortish version is that Milly was born two months prem and had sleep apnoea and needed to have an alarm attatched to warn us if she stopped breathing. As she grew the alarm was dispensed with . We were seeing the pediatrician for regular checks but it wasn't actually diagnosed - they performed a sleep test in Newcastle - until she was about four. Athough we knew she seemed to gasp for breath during the night and was a very light sleeper we didn't think she still had Apnoea.  Her tonsils were HUGE and when she slept they closed and caused her to stop breathing many, many times a night. She always had a disrupted sleep and was often awake - fully wide awake, singing and talking awake - in the early hours of the morning.  Because her quality of sleep was so poor she couldn't always *catch up* on sleep. Her days could be stressful .
The Dr's thought as she grew it might not be as much of a problem. We just did what we could to ensure she got adequate naps through the day and our lifestyle was quite relaxed and very much centered around home. We tried to support her with complimentary treatment such as Homeopathy and acupuncture ( a Japanese form  Toyo Hari  and Moxa  that don't involve inserting needles) and used essential oils for massage at home. Life was good she was happy, healthy and content.
School interrupted that. We had to get her to bed by a certain time to ensure she had a decent sleep to be able to function at school. A horrible, stressful time - we had to totally go against her natural rhythm. I shudder at the memories of how stressed we were about getting her to bed - to be reading stories at a certain time - so that we knew she would have a good chance of going off to sleep at a reasonable hour. She had night terrors as well. If she didn't sleep well it had massive knock on effects on her ability to function at school . It wasn't the academic side we worried about but her ability to cope emotionally.
Eventually we had her tonsils removed when she was 7. This helped with her quality of sleep but her unusual ( obviously compared to others it was unusual - to Milly it was the norm! ) night-time wakening continued.
Then we saw the light :-)  We took her out of school and things have evolved to where we are now over that time.
The journey from bedtimes to allowing her the freedom to choose has not been an easy one for Alan and I. Many posts ( here's one ) about our struggle ;-)) Here we were trusting that she would learn what she needed to learn on the * academic* ( for want of a better word ) side and it just made complete sense to extend that trust into other areas.
When Milly started wanting to stay up later than either of us ( when she felt confident to do that ) Alan and I  had to work through any fears ( for us not her! ) that came up. What might she be able to watch late at night ( inadvertently or intentionally ) that could be inappropriate or scary. Alan and I have worked through those issues and the *fear* that she might be scarred by something she sees has subsided.
 In conversations with Milly ( she told me about it - I wasn't checking to see what she was
watching :-)  ) I know that she has switched over from a programme she was watching and seen parts of a scary movie but after watching a few minutes she chose to turn over. We have talked often about films and how images can stay with you for a long time. She remembers how - many years ago - she was terrified when watching a Beatrix Potter film ( The Roly Poly pudding I think it was ) where Tom Kitten gets rolled in pastry.
 She is interested in Horror movies and I have said we could watch one together . As yet she hasn't chosen one - even though the topic comes up in conversation . She will know when she is ready to watch a scary movie. The same goes for violence in movies - she asked to watch The boy in the striped Pyjamas and we all sat together to watch it. Early in the film one scene came on and as it progressed she could see where it was heading and she chose not to watch the rest and went out to play. Goes without saying that I believe the same will happen with any sexual content Milly might come across. She uses her own judgement about what she is ready to view. If by chance she did see something she wishes she hadn't she knows she can tell us and we can talk it through with her.  
She isn't censored by us and neither is she under pressure from peers to watch something she isn't ready to see.  I remember seeing some very unsavoury magazines that someone at secondary school had found hidden at the bottom of their Dad's wardrobe. He travelled in Germany and they were pretty hard core images - scarred me for a loooong time:-(  No one in the group seemed to be affected as they were passed round - I wonder now just how many were acting as they viewed those magazines, too scared to be seen as wimps in the group.
Had I felt able to go home and talk about it with my Mum I am sure I wouldn't have felt so bad about it for so long.
Last week I was in bed all day with a migraine. Alan and Milly popped in now and again to spend time with me. At around ten Al came up to bed. Milly had been in her room for a while and when he went in to say goodnight she hugged him and said she felt peckish so would make herself a sandwich and maybe watch some TV. We snuggled in bed and she popped her head round the door and said she would look in on us later..

As she left and went downstairs we both looked at each other and burst out laughing - it just seemed so odd - something wrong with this picture - us getting ready to go to sleep and her off downstairs ? Nothing at all odd in our house - it is happening more and more. I heard her come up and check in on us around 11.30.
She always turns off all lights and switches off everything at the wall. She often double checks all the doors are locked before coming up too :-))
She has just had a very full on weekend sleepover that involved a lot of travel - one of her least favourite things - that induces a lot of anxiety but which she chose to do so we could visit friends. There was little sleep had at the *sleepover* and a lot of physical activity. She had an absolute ball!!
Since coming home though she has followed her usual pattern after a hectic time and needed to spend time quietly. She has had one night where she slept from 7.30 to 10.00 the next morning and then that night -even though she was awake early - she was awake til 3 in the morning. She was in bed but couldn't sleep, so she watched DVD's, read and created pages of her lovely drawings. It will take her time to get back into her flow.  Wouldn't give up having or attending sleepovers though just because she doesn't *bounce* back as quickly as some might. We are able to adapt our days to fit ....
Back to that voice I heard in my head this morning.
Oh my god, look at the time! She has wasted the best part of the day
Milly hasn't wasted the best part of the day-  it might well be the best part of the day for someone else -  for Milly the best part of the day could be any point from waking to going to bed. Every day is different, her pattern isn't set, it shift. I would say she is more of a night owl though, so her best part of the day will naturally be later than a morning person...
She'll be turning night into day
It is a possibility that she could turn night into day. She likes to stay up late and to have long lie ins, however by choice ( after having the experience of sleeping til late ) she has decided she doesn't want to be in bed all day. She has asked to be woken before 1.00 - on the very rare occasions she has not woken herself.  Our days are a different shape to other families but they fit us perfectly.
How will she ever learn to get up and do a job of work if she lounges around all day and stays awake half the night!!
 Well, I have no guarantees here ( who does in life? ) our days do begin later than most and we rarely schedule anything for the morning. Milly isn't lounging in bed through boredom or depression though, she is following her natural rhythm. She enjoys days where we are active and out and about and also she enjoys days that are spent at a slower pace - daydreaming and seemingly filled with little activity.
Maybe Milly will shape her work life around her sleep pattern - that is a possibility if she creates a business for herself. I firmly believe that when she gets old enough to be thinking about a job and a way to earn money that she will be motivated and will do what needs to be done - even if that involves getting out of bed early! 

Now I can't say I don't get wobbles and worry that we are not doing the right thing. When I take an overveiw of our life and see how our days flow and how happy and content we all are (99%) of the time - they happen less and less.


Deb said...

I love this post Lynn! It makes me feel all calm just reading it.

Wendy Tomlinson said...

What a wonderful post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Lynn said...

Thank you both :-) I really enjoyed writing it! xxx

Shady Lady said...

It is so important to follow our own rhythms, even when we are children. Beautiful that you allow Milly to find her own! :)

Anne Wood said...

Love reading the experiences of other night owls with the freedom to follow their natural schedule -- thanks for sharing!! :)