My Son’s Unpredictable Sleep Pattern

February 24, 2022

If you have a child with GDD or autism, it's most likely that you have observed them to have an unpredictable sleep routine.

When you have a child with GDD, you have to expect the unexpected. While we were able to establish a daily routine for our son, there are just some things that are beyond our control such as his bedtime routine. When it comes to that area, things become really unpredictable. This is what I’ve learned over the last two years.

Sleep disturbance in children with GDD and autism

My Son’s Unpredictable Sleep Pattern

My son had good sleeping habits until he was a year old. Back then, he would go to bed early. We’d put him to sleep, sometimes he’d sleep on his own. Our only complaint that time was that if he slept early, he also woke up early. Eventually, my solution was to go to bed early and then take him to the common area of the condo unit when he woke up. I liked that routine because it also allowed me to exercise early in the morning. My son ran a lot so all the chasing gave me a good morning jog.

However, things started to get a little crazy when he turned two years old. The COVID-19 pandemic started and we just moved to my in-laws’ home in Quezon City. He’d wake up at odd hours like 2 in the morning or 11:30 in the evening. It was at random hours.

In the first few days, Mommy Khris and I thought that he was just adjusting to the new bed and the new environment, in general. After around two weeks though, he was still like that. He’d wake up, then he’d start to laugh and shout and then jump around. Sometimes he’d cry non-stop.

By this time, we’ve already had him assessed by the developmental pediatrician and we already knew that he has Global Developmental Delay (GDD). We initially had no idea if it’s GDD that was causing our son’s irregular sleep pattern but after doing some research, we found out that one of the characteristics of children with GDD (as well as autism) is sleep interruption.

During all of those moments, he just wanted to be carried. He’d cry when I put him down. I’d be able to put him back to sleep at around 4 or 4:30 in the morning. Sometimes, I’d have an hour or two of sleep before my son woke up.

At times, I’d have no sleep at all before he woke up. It was a good thing that work was suspended during that time so I can afford to sleep when my son is finally asleep. But as we all know, one isn’t really able to catch up on lost sleep. Lost sleep is lost sleep. When one is sleep-deprived for days on end, you can already feel its effect especially for someone like me who is already in their 40s.

When I began to report to the office a few times a week last year, there’d be days when I’d have only two hours of sleep. I’d try to sleep on the bus on the way to the office and that one hour of extra sleep is very precious to me.

When I lost my full time job and focused on freelancing, I saw that as a blessing in disguise because I can sleep a bit more in the morning. My wife is working full-time so I let her sleep when my son woke up.

I imagine other special needs parents are just like me. They’d also be struggling, sometimes they’d be asking questions why things are not the same for them as other parents. 

Oftentimes, we’d have no clue or idea about the things that are happening in our lives, we just have to exert an extra effort to navigate our way through the confusion. Yes, that’s it. We’re often left confused in the midst of thinking of ways to make a good future for our kids.

When my son and I are awake in the dead of the night, I’d sometimes lose my temper and patience. I do admit that you’ve been in a similar situation, too. I do admit that it’s a work-in-progress for me when it comes to those areas.

But it’s only because I’m tired – we’re tired. It’s not because I love my child any less. It’s just a natural response when one is drained. So when that happens to you, forgive yourself. In the end, we only have ourselves to turn to.

The load is also a little lighter for us because we have a yaya (nanny). I could imagine how hard it is for parents who don't have any helper at home and doing everything on their own. It's enough to drive one crazy.

Anyway, my son has been sleeping well in the last two months. I can only recall two instances when he woke up at odd hours. I think it helped that we gave him Mosegor Vita Syrup. We heard that this multivitamin supplement promoted good sleep in kids so we decided to try it. It’s been beneficial for my son so far.

To end, I’d like to say that if you are a special needs parent like my wife and I, just do your best to be patient. I know things are not always ideal for us, we may get angry and flare up, but just think that our kids only have us to take care of them.

I believe that being a special needs parent is a noble purpose and I hope that alone is a big enough reason to encourage us to carry on.

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  1. Joaquin Eli Bacod24 February 2022 at 00:40

    Thank you for sharing this . Very informative ang very helpful tlga lalo na sa mga my anak na my ganitong sitwasyon 💞❤️

  2. Thank you for sharing po dadi iv affected din pala yung pag tulog ng kids pag meron GDD . Agree po parents lang ang meron ang kids kaya need talaga ng patient.