Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ear Plugs

My son has a long history of sleep problems.

Back when I worked from home, I was usually the one who would get out of bed in the middle of the night when Kai knocked on our bedroom door because he couldn’t sleep. I’d take him back to his room and tucked him in, and many times I ended up sleeping in the extra bed in his bedroom rather than continuing to get up when he still couldn’t sleep.

When I started commuting to work downtown, my wife told Kai that he would have to stay in bed as Dad would be too tired to wake up every night, and that he is such a sound sleeper that she would not hear him.

That seemed to work for a little while, as Kai stopped knocking on our bedroom door for a period of time.

But the past few months, the problem has re-emerged, and it’s now as bad as before. And now it’s my wife who usually gets up for Kai.

We have not been successful at finding a way for Kai to sleep better, so we have tried giving him incentives to not disturb us when he awakens in the middle of the night. He can earn 200 points for our Point Store every time he goes through the night without knocking.

But sometimes even that is not enough.

Sometimes he wants comfort after having a bad dream.

Other times he gets anxious after hearing noises outside.

“I can’t sleep.”

Why not?

“Those noises bother me.”

What noises? I don’t hear any noises.


Kai’s hearing is a lot more sensitive than ours. He hears snow plows, the wind, trucks traveling down the road a block away, and many other things.

And the problem isn’t so much that he hears those noises, but he becomes anxious when he does.

Ideally, we want him to be less anxious. And we are working on that.

But in the meantime, his therapist at school recommended we try ear plugs.

Personally, I hate ear plugs. I find them uncomfortable. I don’t like the feeling of them in my ears.

But we were surprised when Kai agreed to try them.

And even more surprised when he didn’t hate them right away.

The first night, he actually slept through the night. I don’t know if the ear plugs had anything to do with it since they fell out overnight. But perhaps he was less anxious because he had them.

Alas, the next night he was back to waking us up.

His leg hurt, he said.


He frequently complains of various aches and pains. Sometimes it is hard to believe that they are real problems.

But that is a topic for another day.

Maybe I need to try the ear plugs to see if it blocks out the sound of Kai trying to wake us up at 2AM.


  1. Oh, I hope the ear plugs work like they did the first night! We are all too familiar with the sensitive hearing. I'm surprised Kai can tolerate large, loud public places like he does. So many places we can't go to because of that. But, ironically, our boys sleep well!

    1. It is kind of amazing that he can tolerate places like that. I think his issue is more anxiety than the noise itself. So glad for you that your boys sleep well!

  2. I know really well getting up in the middle of the night. Here when Andy is up he is up. This past Wednesday he woke up at four and was ready for the day! I wasn't...these nights are way too many, we are going to explore medication. I really can't take them anymore, the lack of sleep is affecting my health and energy level.
    Hopefully you guys can find something that work for thing that comes to mind is a cd with the sound of rain , I know a kid that loves that!
    Good luck!


    1. Geovana, it gets very exhausting when it is night after night. Regarding medication, more than a year ago, one doctor prescribed Risperidone for Kai for his anger, and it helped him sleep. But we stopped it because of side effects. These days he is back on it, at a lower dose, and it does not have the side effects but also does not help with his sleep. I think medication is worth a shot, for your own sake if nothing else, but we have yet to find anything that consistently works without side effects.

      We tried CDs before... the problem for us was that Kai wanted to stay up to listen to the whole thing. So, it actually caused him to not fall asleep as quickly. I am thinking of trying a white noise machine next as those play endlessly.

      Good luck to you! Let me know if you find something that works with Andy.

  3. No ideas to help with this, just sympathy! The night waking is very, very tough!

  4. The white noise is what I had used for my entire career working nights. It was a room air conditioner. The steady drone worked perfectly.

    1. Your feedback makes me want to try it even more to see if it might help Kai sleep. These days they sell little table top white noise machines for about $45 on Amazon.

  5. yuji
    I loved this little slice of life
    Sleep is a major problem in our house now as since we started Remicade - he has insomnia
    I have started sleeping in his room and am thinking about getting him a better matress:-)
    I am so tired these daya that I fall asleep while waiting for him to fall asleep
    I fall asleep while putting him to bed
    I think the earplugs may have a psychological impact as well
    Additionally they may also be good in that he is able to get into a deep sleep

    1. K, so sorry that your son now has insomnia. Is he able to sleep once he falls asleep? Is there an alternative to Remicade?

      Yes, in my son's case, I think the earplugs do have a psychological effect.

      I hope R's insomnia is temporary. In the meantime, I hope you can take a nap on weekends... I find that a good nap is enough (barely) to get me through another week.

  6. also saw your earlier post -on the weeks of good behavior
    That is fantastic
    I think Yuji is really blossoming with time

  7. I mean your son is really blossoming with time
    (I am sure you are as well)

    1. Thanks! He had another good week so only one more week to attain the next level at school.

      (I think I blossomed and wilted a long time ago ;) )

  8. Hi,

    I'm a long time reader (first time commenter) with my own wonder kid. :)

    Just wondering if you've tried a simple fan? We do have an amazing white noise machine from Amazon--the Marpac Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner (see the awesome reviews), but even a very simple (and cheap) box/floor fan (pointed towards the wall) can typically generate enough white noise to cover a lot of the external troublesome sounds. When we travel to my parents' house, we always sleep wonderfully with a fan!

    1. Hi Erica,

      Funny you should mention the Marpac Dohm... I just ordered the Single Speed version from Amazon! I don't think all of Kai's sleep issues are noise related, but I am interested to see if white noise will reduce his anxiety and help him sleep a little better, at least on nights when he otherwise would hear noises.

      Thanks for reading, and commenting. I hope you and your own wonder kid are doing well. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...