Are You Sleeping, Are You Sleeping, Brother John? Cuz We’re Not

There’s a reason why new parents obsessively discuss their child’s sleep routine. Did the imp sleep through the night? How was their nap? Is your baby a “good sleeper?” These conversations stem from true desperation. An exhausted sleep deprived adult if not properly caffeinated will soon look like this. Especially on Hump Day. 

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Our daughter has always been a great sleeper. As an infant she slept too much in fact. (I had wake her to feed). At about eight months, she developed sleep apnea, but it didn’t affect the longevity of her slumber. She’d snort and gasp for air, but remained fast asleep.

Her apnea comes and goes and changes in severity for no clear reason. But no matter how severe, her stellar sleeping pattern continued. At the beginning of December however, she started waking in the night. Usually around 2 am—awake and ready to rock for hours. We tried everything to solve the mystery. Is she too hot, too cold, is there light shining in her window somehow, nightmares, nightsweats, nightanythings?? Are Avery’s teeth hurting her and is this waking her up?  (If you could hear the grinding going on in this poor child’s mouth, you’d know this is a possibility). Hubby suggested she could be hungry. Probably due to the fact that she would often wake and say, “I’m hungry…” This had to be the problem right? Not so fast. Nothing is ever straight forward when it comes to Miss Avery, nor is there ever a quick fix.

Since starting school, Avery is bone tired and generally disinterested in eating by dinner time. At the table she resembles a young Linda Blair – head spinning, spewing pea soup, while we chant, “The power of rice compels you!” Despite our efforts, she often ends up going to bed with an empty tummy.

So we started feeding her oatmeal right before bed. But it made no significant difference. She wouldn’t say she was hungry upon waking, instead she would ask to watch t.v. or play. I’m sorry, I’m not exactly in the mood to play dolls at 3am. I’m funny like that.

Yesterday I took Avery to Sick Kids hospital for a sleep study consultation. Conclusion: she needs a full over-night sleep study. Really? Huh. And what I mean by that is, duh.

Sleep apnea is caused by either an obstruction (e.g. adenoids) or a central nervous system issue, where the brain stops telling the body to breathe during certain periods of sleep. The doctor suspects Avery’s sleep apnea is caused by both. Of course. Like I said, nothing is straight forward.

Hopefully we’ll have a date for the study soon. The doctor explained how Avery will need to sleep with leads attached to her head and several bands around her chest.  My response, as Avery was running around the office, arms flailing, eyes wildly darting…”Good luck with that.” The doctor assured me they only have an average of ten fails per thousand tests. To which I said, “May I introduce you to my daughter, number eleven.” 

Click here to read about how the sleep study went. (Hint: gong show) 


Addendum: About a year after the sleep study, Avery had her adenoids removed to help reduce chronic fluid build up in her ear canals. Since then, episodes of sleep apnea have all but disappeared. Coincidence? Maybe, but we’ll take it. 

UPDATE: Avery is now nine years old and she sleeps a solid ten uninterrupted hours per night. Now I’m the one who can’t stay asleep! Thank you peri-menopause. 

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  • I'll take any number from 1-9. And, that would make a great reality show by the way, "Sleep Apnea Challenge." I'm going to call Mark Burnett!

  • Lack of sleep is tough to deal with. I've done the (adult) sleep study…lots of sensors…jaw clenching, nasal breath, chest breathing, heart beat, O2, brainwave sensors, eye movement, etc. It looks scary but really isn't.

    Here's hope her's is successful and the results lead to a solution of some kind. Linda Blair doesn't belong at the dinner table.

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