Does your child frequently wake in the night? Do you feel as though you have tried every trick in the book and you’re still walking around like a zombie all day after being up all night with a crying, unsettled child? Are you so sick of singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ that you actually think you might remortgage your home to buy the rights to the song just so can ultimately ban its use altogether? Have you ever heard of a sleep study?
I hadn’t. Have a read:
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I am chronically sleep deprived. In fact, its no secret to anyone who has ever met me or even anyone who has stood still long enough for me to complain to. My two boys have always been terrible sleepers and short of locking them in their bedrooms and investing in a set of earplugs, I have done everything humanly possible to assist them.
Recently I took my toddler to a sleep study at the hospital in an attempt to get to the source of his frequent night waking. This is something I had previously thought was just for children with chronic ear, nose and throat issues so had not given it much thought.
My firstborn was a difficult settler for a long time and is still not easily calmed to this day and I never thought anyone could sleep worse than he did until I met my second born. My usual six plus wake ups to one child were then punctuated with hourly wake ups from his brother.
Fast forward now to my youngest at two and half years old and I am still getting up hourly in the night to him and often every twenty minutes between 10pm and 2am which often means I don’t actually get to sleep until after 2am and then it’s back to hourly wake ups until 6am.
It’s not a lot of sleep to live on let alone while raising two small boys full time. It is both physically and mentally draining.
I’m also reasonably sure that my body is now just 75% caffeine.
I have tried everything I can to get him to sleep. I have called in professionals, read all the books, all the studies and taken all of the advice I could get my hands on – to no avail.
So, I booked an appointment with a highly sought-after paediatrician who specialises in sleep disorders in children. After years of just learning to accept my fate, I was back to perhaps seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
He met with my son and we booked a sleep study then and there.
So, what do you expect from a sleep study?
- Expect to not get a lot of sleep for starters.
- They will ask you to arrive around 6pm and will provide dinner to your child to be ready for your child’s usual bedtime.
- They will provide a bed with sides or cot depending on the age and weight of your child.
- They will need to attach lots of wires to your child’s face, back, and head. This can be sticky and upsetting for your little one, so I would suggest packing a bag of distractions. We had a sticker book, some jelly beans and of course Peppa Pig available. Always with that pig!
- They also attach nasal probes to monitor oxygen and have a camera to observe your child overnight.
- Throughout the night the nurses may wander in and out with a torch to correct any cords that may have come loose from your child in their sleep.
- If you’re anything like me, you will probably just be asleep with one eye open anyway.
- From 5am they will start waking everyone to boot you all out by 6am. Good morning!
Every child is different, and results can vary significantly. My son, as it turns out, has been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. He has several episodes where he stops breathing and when his oxygen levels drop he wakes up. He also has Childhood Rhinitis which is causing inflammation in his nasal passages.
As of now, e are waiting on whether he will need to have his adenoids removed and we are trialling medication to assist in reducing the nasal inflammation.
Whether we will see any change in his sleep or not, just the fact of receiving confirmation that his sleep problems were not simply a result of my failure as a parent has been a huge weight off my conscience.
So, there you have it, a sleep study for excessive sleep issues in children.
If you are reading this and you too have tried all the sleep tricks under the sun with little to no change then I would suggest getting a referral from your GP for a paediatrician who deals in sleep disorders. They may well suggest a sleep study is for you.
I wish you all the luck, all the coffee and maybe one day all the sleep too.
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