Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Violet Is a Beautiful, Calming Color

Yes, it's that time of the week again! Time to do Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday link-up. The color this week is violet.

My daughter loves any shade of purple--including violet. It's her favorite color. Well, it used to be her favorite color. Now she says magenta is her favorite. That has some violet in it too, so it counts.

Anyway, we recently redid my daughter bedroom from it's nursery, Winnie the Pooh look, to a big-girl's room with violet walls. The color is beautiful and calming.

Which is important, because my daughter has a really difficult time with sleeping. As early as 2 years old, she gave up her naps. Then it started to take her longer to fall asleep at night--up to 3 hours to fall asleep on some nights. Then she'd wake up in the middle of the night and be up for hours! It was crazy how little sleep she'd get on some nights. It was also crazy how well she'd function the next day! Nevertheless, it would drive me crazy that she wasn't sleeping!

After doing some research, I learned that this isn't an unusual problem for kids on the spectrum. Many, like my daughter, have a hard time turning their brains off at night! While she'd be up for hours, she'd be having the time of her life. She'd sing songs, tell stories, do all sorts of things all from her bed.

We consulted with her pediatrician who suggested we try giving her some melatonin to get her back on track. He said it helps some kids, but not others. We researched it and found no huge issues with it, so we started to give her some melatonin (which, by the way, comes in a container with a violet label) about a year and a half ago. That stuff was amazing! It worked from day one! She'd fall asleep with 10 minutes and sleep through the night. During the first night, she did wake up to use the potty. She was extremely lucid. She did her business, then was able to go right back to sleep. Amazing!

We were warned that over time, the melatonin can stop working, so you either need to increase the dosage or take breaks from it. Last winter, we took a break from it. The first night, she did great--fell asleep right away. The next night it took a little longer, but not too bad. By the third night, it started to take hours again. We put her back on the melatonin.

Over the last few weeks, the melatonin appeared to stop working. So, we've stopped using it again. In general, it's been taking her a couple of hours to fall asleep, but then she sleeps great the rest of the night. The third night off the melatonin, she fell asleep right away and slept 13 hours! She swam a lot that day, so we think that tired her out. Also, we're trying to teach her deep-breathing techniques or even counting out-loud to try to turn her brain off, more or less, so she can sleep.

School is starting next week, so I'm panicking a little. She really needs to fall asleep well before 10 to get enough sleep. I hope we have luck without having to return to the melatonin.


  1. Since I am almost completely color blind, I cannot comment on the color of the week. Also (knock on wood) sleep is not an issue with my autistic son. But it is with me and my NT daughter. I have the same problem as your daughter - I cannot turn off my brain. If you find a cure, let me know because I still struggle with this. On the bright side, I like to think of this as a sign of true genius and I get an awful lot accomplished in the wee hours of the morning.

  2. I was that kid too. Still have the same problems. Melatonin is a new find for me. It works great if I don't fight it, which I'm wont to do.

    Good luck re-establishing the back-to-school routine before school actually starts.

  3. Sometimes I have the same problem! That's great though, that she stayed in her bed and didn't keep YOU up all night! ;)

  4. Good Luck, I sure hope she gets the sleep she needs :) If only she could swim every day and tire her little self out, huh?

  5. Good luck with the sleeping, it really does make a difference for everyone in the family if we get a good night of rest.

    Fascinating how color can have a big impact on lives.

  6. I have trouble turning my brain off at night too...good luck with getting her to sleep so she's fresh for school!

  7. I have a five year old with the same problem. Melatonin does help but...I would rather she learn to sleep on her own so I only use "in case of emergency" if she has a nap in the car (after a long day at the pool) even a five minute snooze can have her awake ALL night - so those nights (maybe once a month) I use the melatonin to help her rest. She knows it helps.

  8. My son has the same sleep issues. Gave up his nap at 2 or wouldn't fall asleep for hours. It works great for helping him fall asleep, but then he started waking up at night, sometimes for 4-5 hours. UGH. We used to work hard to soothe him back to sleep to no avail, but realized he had to learn to self-regulate again.

    Now he sometimes wakes up, but for much shorter periods, and since school started, he's been sleeping through the night. I think having a full day of school really tires the kids out! We're going to try to stop the melatonin once we set the clocks back and it starts getting darker earlier.

    Good luck. Sleep affects everything!

  9. Fingers crossed that you can find a good routine that works for her. And for you.

    Sleepless kids make for sleepless parents. Not a happy situation.

    Best wishes.

  10. Yeah, we are big on the melatonin here too. I only give her a small dose but we do take breaks from it too. No more swimming to tucker her but, like JennieB said, she tends to sleep better in the months with more darkness.

  11. It's so hard on everyone when children have trouble sleeping. I always found a quieting routine helped. The old fashioned warm milk, warm bath and a snuggling bedtime story seemed to help my kids settle down and go to sleep. I also used lavender spray on their sheets, which is a calming scent. My daughter-in-law finds that a white noise machine helpful for my grandson.

  12. Maybe the new color in her room will help her unwind and rest at night. At least you know of something that may help.

  13. We tried melatonin for a while with Leo, it didn't work with him, sigh. But he likely has a different sleep profile than your violet & magenta-loving girl. Exercise exercise exercise works sometimes -- but that's a big time commitment for us too, and usually only realistic on weekends.

    Good luck! Let me know if you find a solution.

    P.S. I am freaking a bit that Pat from Mille Fiori Favoriti is commenting here -- I adore her NYC photoblog and always read every single post.


  14. Squid:

    How ironic! I'm freaking out that you're commenting here! LOL! You moderated the BlogHer 10 special needs panel!

    I wonder if Heather Armstrong ever freaks out by someone commenting on her blog?

  15. That's such a hard thing when you can't get to sleep at night. I'm sorry your daughter has that struggle. Maybe exercise will be the key, since the swimming seemed to help.


  16. The tribulations and triumphs you face must be exhausting and so rewarding respectively! You're courageous. Thanks for sharing with us.

  17. Hmmm violet and magenta are both colours and girls names :P.
    Seriously, the school schedule will tire her out.
    Otherwise you could put her in for Olympic swimming training...? ;)
    Good luck!

  18. My boys slept like logs but, now, my 25-year-old has trouble sleeping. I guess it's the pressure of his job! Me, I've never slept much. For the last 21 years, before I lost my job in the massive budget cuts, as a sexual assault nurse examiner, I was on call practically every night, and usually got called in. Being half awake listening to the pager must have taken its toll because I only average four hours sleep a night. Guess it really doesn't matter too much since I'm not working now.

    At 65, I've done it! My poetry book – “Life's Journey” by Carmen Henesy - is out on Amazon!
    ( Poems about the things that have been important to me in my
    journey through life - some humorous, some sad, some that may have meaning to you as well )

    Check out the reviews at my Amazon site to see what others thought of my book!

  19. My boys have to use melatonin to get to sleep as well. We have stopped using it with the 9 year old except in rare cases (like full moon nights, which affect him). I'm gonna explore more, cause I have a special place in my heart for kids on the spectrum!

  20. Oh wow, I'm sorry to hear that your daughter has such a hard time with sleep. I've been lucky since my daughter goes down for naps really easy and does the same with bedtime. I hope that she continues to have no sleeping issues since I'm too nervous about giving her medication to help her sleep.

    I've never heard of giving kids melatonin to help them sleep but I'll keep it in mind that it's safe if our doctor ever suggests it to us. Thanks for the information!

  21. Hi Cheryl. Melatonin works really well for me, too.

    Does calcium/magnesium loading help her with sleeping?

    When I need to stop the melatonin I switch over to the calcium/magnesium for a few weeks and then go back. I don't know if this will help with little ones.

    I would paint my room violet, too, if Mr. Jenny wouldn't have a coronary. I love that color!

    Thanks for the interesting link.

    I hope cal/mag is a solution for you in the interim.