Now that I am actually getting some, I have some new perspectives on Sleep.
First, let me tell you that I have been an un-apologetic co-sleeper for most of my children’s young lives. My husband and I both loved having all 3 of our kids tucked in and around our bed each night. This is not the life for everyone and not what this story is about but is part of our story and I have wonderful memories of those days…But there comes a time in every child’s life when it is time to move on to their own little space in the world of sleep.
For my first 2 children, this transition was gentle and mostly peaceful.
But Autism is a different story and a great night’s sleep in not always a part of it.
For the past 15 years, there have been hundreds of times that my husband has recited this bible verse over us as we prayed for our family at bedtime.
… For the Lord gives sleep to those he loves… (Psalm 127:2)
… And if I am honest, I resented that statement for years.
“Don’t you love me, Lord”?
Through the watches of the long, dark nights, I would often ask this. Of course, as a good Bible-Girl I already knew the truth. OF COURSE HE LOVES ME! Then why will you not grant us a peaceful night’s rest? I would hold my chattering, shaking, and restless, agitated boy and plead with God for rest. Some nights were better than others, but I did not sleep thought the night for 15 years.
We tried every natural remedy known to man. Melatonin, herbs, oils, sound machines, weighted blankets, occupational therapy, massage and lots of prayer. I need to tell you that I am someone who functions very well on very little sleep. At least there was that, I reasoned.
But as I look at the verse from Psalm 127 again, I see something different. When I read it in it’s entirety, it looks a little different to me.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-5
This verse is reminding me that every attempt I make to save myself is in vain. But rest comes as I find my portion in God and his great love for me. I am also realizing that God has, indeed given me both sleep and rest. In all my nights of murmuring before God, I was forgetting that I did sleep… sometimes only minutes at a time, sometimes hours, but it was enough. Enough that I never actually suffered some of the terrible side effects of sleep deprivation. Instead of being resentful for what I don’t have, I am so thankful for what I have been blessed with.
I have been blessed with strength and joy, even after those hard nights. I get new mercies every morning and can choose to walk in them no matter how long the weeping of night endures. Joy does come and I am thankful for it.
Six months ago, we did finally decide to seek professional help. It was a hard decision to make for this all-natural, daughter-of-a-hippy gal. Our son has been on sleep medication since then, and while it was not a magic pill, it did help all the other things we were trying seem to be more effective. I am happy to tell you that he is sleeping in his own room, in his own bed from 9:30 pm to 6:00 am for most nights. After 15 years, I have had to work on sleep training myself but I am getting longer and longer stretches of sleep every night. We occasionally have hard nights still but we have a lot of appreciation for the good ones.
If sleepless nights are part of your story, I want you to know that you are not alone. Not because there are lots of us mamas in the same boat, but because your Creator, who holds your every moment in his hands, promised that he would walk with you through the long, dark nights and offer you peace and rest, even when sleep is hard to find.