Tonight we put our clocks forward by an hour to British Summer Time and the impact is dramatic. Suddenly, we gain lighter nights when you feel able to do something in the evening after work and our lives are flooded in daylight after the gloom of winter. It will now not get dark until after 7pm and that will gradually stretch until 9pm as the summer approaches. I might even be more inclined to get my bicycle out again and start cycling to work. It will certainly start to feel as though winter is behind us and summer is just around the corner and often with that, comes a new burst of energy.
But it is not all good news as the light nights can have a bad impact on many children with special needs, as they do not associate bedtime with it still being light. So there might be more struggles over sleep for many families. Of course adjusting to being an hour later does not really impact on our children who’s lives are not ruled by clocks. When he was younger, Joshua would always wake around 3am, sometimes for good and sometimes just for an hour or so, but we were too familiar with this time of day. Sleep issues are massive for our families and disturbed nights are the norm, so most of SEN parents are sleep deprived either due to their children struggling to get to sleep, stay asleep ,waking up early or all three of course. Parents of ‘normal’ babies and toddlers will complain about their lack of sleep often until their child goes to school, but just try managing that until your child is 16/17 or beyond!
I used to think that Joshua was a bad sleeper, with his reluctance to stay in bed and his 3am shenanigans, but I had no idea when I was well off: after his brain surgery, for at least a year, Joshua developed a crippling sleep patter. After a seizure, he would stay awake for the following 48 hours continuously. He would look like death, so pale yet with black rings under his staring eyes , but although he was physically exhausted, the brain activity in his head would simply not enable him to close his eyes and sleep .He would need supervising all night long as he was restless as he could not settle anywhere. This wakefulness was nothing to do with daylight, it was all internally created and it will have been one of the hardest periods of parenting him ever. He would finally be able to sleep after 48 hours and then he would be shattered, so would sleep intensely to try to catch up. A week later, the cycle would begin again. None of this was healthy for either of us and it was certainly not conducive to being a working mum. But we survived and we never now take a good nights sleep for granted.
So now that Joshua is typically asleep around 9pm and often sleeps until 7am, we are very lucky, finally. I am out of practice when, like this week, he was up out of bed at 2am for an hour and again at 4am. It is usually however my own brain, rather than Joshua’s, that is waking me up in the early hours these days. I guess after so many years of disrupted sleep, I struggle to sleep through now. So long as I can grab 5-6 hours sleep, albeit broken up in the middle often, I can function during the day, although I will always enjoy a siesta if the opportunity arises.
So spring forward this weekend, and feel full of the joys of Spring.