One of the first red flags for Helen was that she didn’t sleep. Ever. The first two years, her average was 3 non-consecutive hours every 24. And, no, she didn’t take naps. But it wasn’t just the lack of sleeping. Every night, I would hold her in a dark room while she screamed for 3-4 hours. She would finally fall asleep, only to wake up an hour or so later and do it again. She had a huge tendency towards self-injury, so putting her down was not an option. A year into intense-everyday-round-the-clock therapy, the screaming had lessened, she was less likely to injure and had worked up to 4 hours. Still not exactly restful for anyone. She had starting talking at this point. During the day, she would rock back and forth and tell me “I so tired, momma. I so tired”. At night, she would cry and repeat over and over “Please, sleep, momma. Please sleep”.
Yes. It was exactly as awful as it sounds.
I thought we had tried everything.
Then, when I was reading about dietary supplements (another issue for her), I came across Magnesium Deficiency. Among other things, it can cause insomnia. Also, children like Helen are extremely likely to be very deficient. I started scouring mom blogs and found that a lot of them had success with Epsom Salt baths. I was already putting Baking Soda in her bath (for dry skin), so why not? At first, she couldn’t tolerate the texture. One of the blogs I read suggested letting her play with it first. Worked like a charm. After about a week, Helen starting sleeping.
All. night. long.
Plus, she was falling asleep in under an hour, without screaming or crying. Of course, it’s not perfect. We’re currently recovering from a stretch of no sleep following a weekend away. Also,there are some precautions for using all these things. And some people think there’s not a lot of scientific basis for these results. I don’t know either way. Frankly, I don’t care. All I know is that, now, I can tell my precious girl “Good night” and believe that might be exactly what we’re going to have.
*In case you need to know: We use about 1/4-1/2 cup Epsom salts in a full bathtub. She soaks for 30 minutes or more.