Tuesday, March 07, 2006

To sleep, perchance to dream

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?


Anonymous said...

You know that L was there with you last night! I love when I dream of my Mia it doesn't happen often so when it does I know she is telling us she is there and watching everything. XOXOX Noelle

gretchen said...

I am so touched by your dream. Yes, I can see why you would feel comforted and saddened at the same time. Bud's twin hasn't left you.

Henry too was awake in the early hours of Tuesday. Talking and smiling to himself. He did eventually get back to sleep, and I wondered what was happening.

Also, I've been wanting to tell you that I've started reading "Not Even Wrong." It's great so far.

kristina said...

Reading this I feel "The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to": It was precisely at 3.15am that Charlie awoke last week. Precisely. And then, just like Bud, he stayed wide awake and was peaceable and smiley and chatty, as we know because he was hogging the middle of our bed. I think MothersVox is onto something when she wrote in her comment,

Coming out of the dark underworld of Demeter's winter is, perhaps, not always as joyful as we would expect such a change to be!

Perhaps a related experience of coming out from one state to another is when a humid spell in the weather is approaching after days of bright blue sky? as you noted back in the summer (getting closer!). This is how Virgil announces the start of spring in Book I of the Georgics: "New spring, when cold and wet run down from the hoar-frosted mountains, and a crumbling clod is loosed by Zephyr's touch...."

Hope Bud sleeps well tonight.

Eileen said...

Yes, we have been experiencing some of this waking with Andrew. Last Thursday he was awake from 12:30 Am to 9:00 Am. On Sunday night he woke around 2:30 and did finally fall back at around 4:30. He has been a little dysregulated at school the last few days. I did notice it was lighter earlier this morning. Around 6:00 the sun was shining bright, the birds were singing and so was my Andrew. There is definitely something to the change of season and how it effects us all.

Your dream made me think of the "Good Night Moon" video. One of our favorites these days and I know a favorite of yours and Bud's also. I love when they ask the kids about dreams and they talk about our loved ones who have passed visiting us in our dreams. Most definitely his way of letting you know he is with you, especially in this difficult time you are going through with your husband.

Hope you and Bud had sweet dreams last night!

Brett said...

Over the years we've come to realize that Z's sleep patterns are related to what is going through his mind when he goes to bed. If he has had a good, happy day and has had the chance to do what he wanted to that day, sleep comes easy and he wakes up easily/naturally the next day.

If, on the other hand, he goes to bed without having had that "good" day, he has some trouble going to sleep and inevitably wakes up early. The trouble, sometimes, is figuring out what it is he's not happy with.

The easy things to figure out are things like him getting a new video game and not having enough time to check it out. Sometimes it is a bit more difficult to figure out. For instance, if we are watching a movie that he doesn't want us to watch, he'll leave us alone to watch it but won't go to sleep until we go to his room and let him know the movie is over.

Of course, there is also the school vs. weekend thing. He may go all week fighting the wake up call, but come Saturday morning he's up and at it well before sunrise. (Typical teenager, I think!)


Wendy said...

I read this post this morning and felt thankful that C doesn't have any sleep issues. Then at nap time today it took him well over an hour to fall asleep. Sigh.

Saw Gretchen's post above about "Not Even Wrong". I tried to order it from Amazon this morning but it's out of stock.

ozemum said...

I know there is something called seasonal adjustment disorder, which is related to that 'disrupted' feeling that comes with the change in light levels. I think they actually treat it with bright lights (like the heat lamps you use in bathrooms).

Anonymous said...

I found your dream deeply touching... and very beautiful. I think it shows that there are two boys in your heart, not one. Which is so sweet, and just right. Especially for Bud.

(Trust me -- my mum had an abortion before she had me, and she didn't tell me until I was twenty-two. I grew up wishing I had a big brother. I wish I had just known I did have one. I bet Bud dreams of his twin too in some way or other...)