Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Preemies and Sleep Issues

I thought I’d pass this information on to anyone who may be interested.  The more I thought about it, seems like there are several preemie moms who are having sleep issues ‘round here.  And it’s not just preemies- research is showing that any little one who spent time in the NICU is at risk, although it’s usually proportional to the level of intervention that they received there. 

A few months ago, our EI team invited me to a training that they’re all going through at Children’s to know how to help kids coming out of the NICU.  Our team, specifically, is going to get most of the Part C kids now for the county and are working on being specifically trained to do so.  It’s pretty cool, actually, because the issues that face preemies are so different in those first six months especially.

Anyway, one of the biggest parts of this part of the training was looking at State Transitions- how kids go into and out of sleep.  Preemies are not always good at making smooth transitions through each step and they sometimes need help figuring it out.  The problem is that if they skip a step, it disorganizes them and they just don’t know how to cope. 

Piper’s sleep has AGAIN taken a turn for the worst.  She was waking up at 2am (and/or 3am and/or 4am…) and NOT being able to go back to sleep.  I was a wreck.  Piper was exhausted.  And grumpy.  And uncooperative.  Last week during OT, I was at my wits end.  Piper was up most of the night, and she was NOT in the mood to participate (not that I blame her…)  Becky and I talked about it for a bit, and she asked what I thought was causing it.  I had thought about hunger (she woke up one time asking for “blooies”- blueberries for breakfast are the BEST part of her morning), so I was going to start there by upping her protein to see if it helped.  But the more I thought about it, the less I thought that was the case.  We tried; it didn’t work.  She’s NOT teething.  She SHOULD be exhausted.  I didn’t know what else to think.

Becky asked HOW she was waking up- and it donned on me that when she has the most issues is when she suddenly wakes up.  Usually I hear her mess around for a few minutes, and she just slowly starts to escalate.  The bad nights, though, she’s just instantly mad. 

I thought about it more this week after Becky and I talked and I’m now fairly convinced that the state transitions are Piper’s issue.  She wakes up too fast, and then she can’t get from light sleep to deep sleep.  And THEN it donned on me that her issues have REALLY gotten worse since she started walking.  That means that she’s getting FAR less sensory input than she was before.  When you crawl, you get input through your palms, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and calves.  Walking, you get feet, ankles, knees, and hips…

SO, the moral of my story is that IF your little one is having sleep issues, it’s worth talking to your OT for some pointers and sensory training.  We now have a regiment of exercises to do a few times a day for a couple weeks to see how it goes.

I really hate to get my hopes up, but…  Piper took a THREE hour nap this afternoon after a session of joint compressions.  I’ve been lucky to get ONE hour for a couple of weeks now.  Please, oh please, oh PLEASE let this help.   


  1. This is interesting. Claire still sleep great at night and is calm when she wakes up in the mornings. But she wakes up FAST from naps, and we're down to 1 one hour nap a day. I could get soooo much done during a 3 hour nap!!

  2. very interesting. I hope it works. keep us posted on the progress

  3. i will keep that in mind for when rachel starts walking...