Sleepless In Missouri: The Highly Sensitive Child And Sleep

June 30th, 2011

Highly sensitive childrensleep photo have special needs. Obviously I should know that since I am a highly sensitive person myself. The problem arises when my hsc daughter’s needs are at odds with my own — like they have been the last few nights.

HSCs/HSPs have transitional issues

I don’t notice it as much in myself, mostly because I’ve found ways to cope, but since my daughter was a baby she has had trouble making big transitions. The most notable difficulties have been with sleep. It’s not hard to get her to fall asleep. It’s hard to keep her asleep.

When she was a newborn, she would sleep so long as she was held. Laying her in her bassinet, unless she was in a state of deep sleep, was nearly impossible. We coped as a family and eventually she got used to sleeping alone.

Transitioning from the bassinet to a crib wasn’t as difficult, but we still had a lot of nights where we were up every two hours trying to settle her back into bed. Thankfully, my mother figured out it was Tiny Tot’s sensitivity to being hot or cold that was causing the regular night wakings. Once that was addressed, she went back to sleeping through the night.

Ah! How I miss those nights…

Recently, we decided it was time to convert the crib to a toddler bed.

Oh boy! I wish I had known then what we were in for. I guess, given my little girl’s history of night wakings and nightmares, I really should have been better prepared. I wasn’t.

So, now we are back to the old routine of getting up several times per night to help her settle back into sleep. Thankfully we no longer have to sleep in a rocking chair with her. Instead we have a nice comfy body pillow on the floor next to her bed. Not quite as comfortable as a real bed, but better than the carpet-covered concrete floor.

Why put up with the stress?

In a word: compassion. Although it makes me a tired, grumpy momma later in the day, I know I’m meeting my child’s needs. That is what matters most to me. I understand what it’s like to deal with transitions and it’s my responsibility to help Tiny Tot learn how to cope.

Of course, meeting her needs would mean very little if I didn’t find a way to meet my own. I need to sleep sometime. I manage to sleep a little better on the pillow than I did in the chair, but, if it weren’t for my wonderful mother who willingly takes care of my daughter so I can get a nap, that wouldn’t be enough.

It helps to remind myself that this period of transition won’t last forever. I’m hoping it doesn’t last as long as the last one, but even if it does I’ll manage because I have the support of others who understand both my highly sensitive child and me.