This morning Bud woke up early. Very early. 3:15 a.m. early. And when I say "woke up," I don't mean "woke up briefly" or "dozed off and on until dawn." I mean woke up bright and fresh, ready to start the day. I even gave him a second dose of melatonin, which had absolutely no effect.
It was odd and frustrating and more than a little tiring, but I didn't give it a great deal of thought until I read today's post at Autismland, in which Kristina wrote,
More than a few fellow traveler autism parents have been noting how the change in the seasons--the huge transition from cold winter to wet spring---has been affecting their children, sometimes to intense outbursts...Charlie has been having odd transition trouble, not so much between activities at school or home...but with transitioning from one state of consciousness to another: For the past few days, he has been agitated and tense a minute after waking.
and this comment from MothersVox at Autism's Edges:
My thought is that a good bit of this may be seasonal. . . esp. as it seems that a number of us are seeing regressions in our children this week. Personally I am very sensitive to changes in the amount of sunlight, and around this time of year I can be prone to changes in mood and difficulties modulating sensory information. People used to call this spring fever or March madness. I think it's a very real phenomenon. When the light changes suddenly -- such as a spate of really sunny late winter or early spring days after a number of grey days -- or perhaps just when the amount of daylight passes some critical juncture, I can become very very sensitive... When I think about how many hormones are thought to be activated by light levels, this does seem to make some sort of sense. Also, when I think about how many ASD kids have trouble falling asleep, I really wonder if being in artificially lighted environments keeps them awake. Maybe our kids are super-attuned to light levels.
It hadn't occurred to me that Bud's body might be dysregulated because of a sudden change in light levels, but it makes some sense. Historically he has struggled with sleep patterns during Daylight Savings time shifts and throughout the bright summer months.
As I think more about it I realize that, like MothersVox, perhaps I am being affected as well. I am typically a deep sleeper and rarely have dreams that I remember. But last night was unusual not just because I woke with vivid images of my dreams, but also because of their content. For the first time since we lost Bud's twin brother, I had a dream about the two of them. They looked like Bud at about age 3 and were absolutely identical. I was trying to get them ready for bed, but I was struggling to try to figure out how to get two giggling, squirming boys through the bedtime routine. And I was puzzled. I do this every night, my dream-self thought. Why can't I remember how I do this? I know I must have a routine. Why can't I remember what the routine is?
My dream-self was really confused when I brought them into their room (which, in the dream, was actually my brothers' room in our childhood home) and saw that there was only one bed. Do I really make them share a bed? Why do I make them do that? Why don't we have two beds for them?
Then my dream-self had a moment of panic: Oh no! What's going to happen when they climb into bed with us tonight? How will the four of us fit?
But they must do this every night. We must fit just fine.
I looked down at Bud and his brother - I wasn't sure which one was which - and saw that they had fallen asleep, two duplicate profiles side by side, sleeping peacefully.
And then I woke up, and for a moment I couldn't remember... there is something about that dream that isn't quite right... I'm not sure... but I know it's something important...
Oh, right. I remember now. Just one boy. Just one Bud.
It was inexplicably unsettling and soothing at the same time. I think about falling asleep tonight and both hope and fear that the twins will be there again. (Ay, there's the rub.)
So it makes me wonder. What is it that disrupts Bud's sleep so profoundly from time to time? What woke him in the middle of the night, not enough to upset him but enough to prevent him from falling back to sleep? Is it seasonal? Hormonal? Is it the same thing that gave him night terrors as a toddler? Is it a sensitivity to light? Or is it exposure to a light that's even more difficult to explain?