Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is Your Baby Overtired?

"I don't let my child's naps hinder
me from doing my grocery shopping!"
Sleep is under-emphasized in our society.  We burn the candle at both ends.  We work weekends.  Yet our kids are important to us, too, so we tote them around, taking them with us to Wal-mart at all times of the day and night and bringing them along to parties.  The general consensus is that you've got a "good sleeper" if your kid will crash anywhere.

The problem with this is the quality of sleep.  In a nutshell, sleep is a complicated state that occurs best when it's the right time.  Fluctuating hormones cause us all to enter sleep states and wake states throughout a 24 hour period (see the Napping Window).  It is possible to put a child to sleep during a wake state (although it will probably take a long time!) but because of the increased cortisol hormone, the sleep will not be as deep and the sleep period will probably be short.

All of that to say that, after 4 months of age, a routine helps to train a child's body when it's time to sleep. 

Just as important as the timing is the place.  Although she looks completely zonked, a soft blanket and a shopping cart are no substitute for her bed.  You're familiar with sleep cycles, right?  Fall asleep, get deeper into sleep, cycle up to a lighter sleep state, and then without waking, go back into a deeper sleep.  Many cycles per night.  The reason that still, quiet sleep is the most restorative is because the motion and the noise hinder getting into that deep sleep state.  Her mind is not able to rest.

I don't want to make anyone mad, but I do think that parents are sadly unaware of some facts about their child's sleep.  First of all, some things I've heard parents say.

•  My child just isn't the type to conform to a sleep routine.
•  My child doesn't need as much sleep as other children.
•  Our family is on the go.  It's best if our child just gets used to it now!

If you've found yourself thinking or saying something like this before, please consider some of these symptoms of over tiredness in babies and young children.

•  Waking grumpy vs. happy
•  Unable to play happily by themselves during their wake time
He crashed.  Kinda funny, but
really just kinda sad.
•  Unexplained fussing
•  Yawning or rubbing eyes a lot
•  Fidgety or spazzy
•  Easily startled
•  Irregular sleep patterns
•  Fights naps and/or bedtime
•  Random unexplained night wakings
•  Complains of headache or stomach ache
•  Seemingly not tired when you know they should be
•  Waking within minutes after being put down for a nap
•  Crashing randomly

Imagine what it feels like when you haven't gotten enough sleep.  Miserable, right?  What's work like the day after you haven't gotten enough sleep?  I'll skip to the chase because I think you get my drift.  A bad attitude and a hard-to-pin-down schedule today are the least of your concerns when your child is sleep deprived.  Weissbluth writes, "Small but constant deficits in sleep over time tend to have escalating and perhaps long-term effects on brain function."  Not to mention the affect sleep has on health.  Some long-term affects of a child who does not get healthy sleep can be decreased mental focus, insomnia, ADD and ADHD.  People take medicine and suffer from these ailments that might have never occurred had they been getting enough sleep.

Eliminating a child's sleep deficit is not easy, but anything you can do to help your child get more sleep (the right kind of sleep... still, quiet, consolidated, and regular) will benefit their health and development.  If you want to get started, you know the book I'll recommend.  I love to talk about this stuff (can you tell?) so please let me know if I can be of any support.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Declan's Chiropractor Visit #2

Just got back from Declan's second visit with Dr. Adams.  He adjusted him again and talked to me about what the last couple of days have been like.  He also looked at the 66 pictures I brought him on a thumb drive at his request.

First of all, the past couple of days have been surprisingly normal.  The reason it's surprising is because Declan has not had any Prevacid since Monday morning.  The last time that we took him off of his medicine was after my 4 weeks of dairy elimination (around Thanksgiving).  After he missed his 2nd dose (less than 24 hours), he had a very rough night.  He was gagging and gushing during his feeding that evening, and then he was up every 2 or 3 hours.  I can just assume it was heartburn.  The next day we put him back on it and went on as normal, so I know he was still experiencing symptoms at that point.  So, the decision to take him off of it after Monday's appointment was a cautiously optimistic one. 

Declan recently started sleeping 12-13 hours at night (before we took him off of the Prevacid).  I was a little worried this progress would be damaged if we took him off, but he's maintaining it.  (phew!)  That is the "big one" in terms of indications that his first adjustment helped something.  He's also spitting and spewing less (although it's not completely eliminated).  So, he's either finally outgrowing his acid reflux this week or the adjustments are helping (c:

While looking at Declan's pictures, Dr. Adams said that Declan definitely had birth trauma.  I wasn't expecting to hear that.  When I was picking out the pictures, I looked closely but I didn't think I saw any strong trend of a tilted head.  These are a few that he pointed out in particular:

Turned to the left

Turned to the left

Turned to the left

Turned to the right but slight tilt to the left

He said this was one of the most telling pictures because he's holding his own head, camera is dead center in front of him, and there's still a tilt to the left.

Tilt to the left

Slight turn to the left

Tilt to the left

Turned to the right but tilted to the left

He said that Declan definitely had birth trauma, but it isn't so obvious in more recent pictures because he has gained neck strength.  He said we still might notice it when Declan starts to get tired. 

Now Dr. Adams wants us to have 3 more appointments over the next month and he'll re-examine, but he feels like Declan will be reflux free by then.  He said some kids do take longer but he doesn't think that will be Declan based on the progress we've already seen.

I am playing devil's advocate in my head, just because I don't like to be a sucker.  And because Ryan is a little skeptical of my whole "Chiropractors are Magical" theory.  Declan very well could be outgrowing his reflux on his own (most babies do it by 12-18 months old).  Financially, is it the right decision to go on with adjustments?  After 3 more appointments, we'll have spent $250.  Declan's Prevacid is almost $60 a month.  If he's going to deal with reflux til he's a year old and need the Prevacid, we'll come out even by treating it now.  If he's outgrowing it on his own at almost 8 months old, then we're "wasting" our money. 

I like to think of the unknown things we may be treating, though, by correcting his vertebral sublaxation.  A healthy spinal column enables the body to heal itself, and also allows for optimal immunity.  I don't know if it's a proper way to look at it, but I think adjustments are kind of like a tune-up?  It's preventative maintenance, too.  That is hard to put a price on since we don't know what the future holds.  Financial isn't the only angle to consider, but unfortunately it's a big factor.  It has to make sense to Ryan.

Would love to hear arguments either way if you've got an opinion.