Saturday, March 17, 2007

Update on Insomnia

We had come to the conclusion that it was all diet that caused Caleb to sleep or not, but I have reversed my decision on that.

Diet plays a role. Did you ever notice that almost everyone in the family (not mom--she doesn't struggle with ADD) has a home made milkshake before bed? There's a reason for that.

But diet isn't everything. I think playing outside really is at least as important--maybe moreso. The problem is, the diet thing has instant results. (We even joke around here that soda is a "fight in a can" because the sugar hit is so strong and so sudden that the kids start fighting literally within minutes of drinking soda.) The playing outside thing DOESN'T have instant results. It seems to be delayed 24 hours. That's what makes me think the key is the sunlight and not the exercise he gets playing outside. If Caleb gets plenty of sunlight today, tonight he still won't fall asleep easily, but tomorrow night he will go right to sleep. If he doesn't get sunlight tomorrow, though, the next night he'll have trouble. See?

I think it's because, unlike blood sugar, the levels of melatonin in the body aren't affected instantly. The sunlight gets absorbed and then the body takes some time to process it, create the melatonin, and then have that melatonin affect the sleep cycles. Enough sunlight though (like enough that Caleb gets a little tan) has a longer-lasting affect than just one day.

It's complicated. There's a balance between the diet (he has to eat not only the right thing before bed, but the right amount--not too much or too little), the sunlight, the exercise, the pre-bedtime stimulation levels, etc. In other words, it's not a simple problem.

And I still have to take into account the usual sleep disrupters for kids--is he in pain, is he sleeping in something uncomfortable (like jeans), is he scared from something, etc.? Plus, his body, like mine, seems to go through cycles where things are better and things are worse, and there's nothing I can do to change that. We can work with in, but we cannot erase it.

Lately more than once I have read/been told about a philosophy with ADD that treats it not as a "disorder" but rather as a "difference" that ought to be embraced and adapted to. The idea (a noble one) is that we don't tell people who suffer from ADD that they are "broken" or have a "disability," but instead we focus on the strengths innate to ADD--creativity, the ability to think outside the box, the ability to come up with quick answers, etc. We should embrace these things and not medicate them away, but learn to adapt where we might fall short, just like everyone else in the world has to.

Jorge's mom (a school psychologist, no less) and Tim's brother go for this. The website someone posted in the comments of my previous posting on ADD really focused on this. It is the idea presented in "Driven to Distraction" and the one that makes Dr. Amen unfavorable to a lot of psychologists who are opposed to labeling children "broken". And there is great merit to the idea. Shouldn't we be teaching people to love who they are and live with both their strengths and weaknesses?

But it buys into the idea that the world functions on polarity: Either we medicate a child into a stupor OR we don't medicate them at all and try to teach them to adapt. This seems completely unfair to the child. Why does it have to be one or the other? Of course we embrace the talents and creativity that ADD brings. And why not also medicate the handicaps away and make life as easy as possible? I don't think it's about drugging people to make them like everyone else. I think it's about providing the right amount of the right medication (or amino acids, or whatever the Spirit instructs) to allow people to USE the talents that may come with ADD, and also the talents that came as gifts to allow them to add to the world and accomplish their missions in life. What good is having a thousand brilliant ideas if they are trapped in a brain that cannot let them out, develop them, and release them into the world?

I realize people say, "You can learn how to get them out." But I have seen the difference between learning how to get them out and still having to struggle with it and suddenly being free to not have to worry about getting them out. It's not about not "liking my brain." It's about liberation for people born in a prison.

Life is hard enough. Shouldn't we use every tool available to us to make it as easy as possible?

1 comment:

morelightthanburden said...

Yes, but part of the point of life is not being able to do all the things we want to. Elder Maxwell used to say, "in process of time" and "according to the flesh." We are limited in resources, while inner is unlimited--that's part of the prick. I've faced this feeling a lot too.