On the Dad Watch
The Language of Lunchboxes

The New No Sleep

Sunny spring day smile


After the past couple of weeks, it has become quite apparent that Charlie's regular sleeping hours have become 1 or 2am to whenever we rouse him to get on the bus. The old strategies -- lots of exercise (a good 15-mile bike ride with Jim, a fast-paced run-walk with me), melatonin, carefully orchestrated bedtime routine, quiet in the house -- seem not to be working at all. (Not that they have always worked, for that matter.)

Or rather, Charlie being on the cusp of turning 15, he is adopting decided teenager (if not college student) hours. So far, he seems able to get himself out of bed to board his 7.30am bus, regardless of when he falls asleep (and so far, he does always sleep, at some point).

Charlie has been amenable to staying in the house and mostly in his room and using his iPad: This is quite a change from just the two years when he insisted on round the clock walks and became so frustrated at the hours passing as he lay in bed but could not sleep that behavior storms sometimes occurred at odd hours of the night. While it can be a bit taxing on the parental end to be routinely up rather late for a number of nights in a row, expressing that frustration to Charlie never helps and (as we've learned from painful past experiences) often just makes things worse. Better to be peaceful-easy if sleepy.

These days, Charlie indeed wants to be left to his own devices: While I used to sit, alert and tense, listening to him through hours of insomnia, I've now been working on my computer or reading a book and even, since I am certainly not a teenager, getting some sleep.

(With one ear attuned to our boy, of course.)




Bede has a habit of very early morning rising these days, coupled with midnight bedtimes and late-morning or early afternoon naps. He seems to be taking after his father in that regard. Sean rarely sleeps through the night, and tends to break his sleep into one longer and one shorter period.


It seems that if you are resting a bit more comfortably with a book or your computer, and even getting some sleep, that's a big accomplishment! Great for you and probably also the best thing for Charlie.
I'm writing from BeyondAutism, a south London based nonprofit for children and families with autism. To shine a light on Autism Awareness month, we're encouraging families to tweet their achievements -- such as a restful night. :-) Care to share? @BeyondAutismUK


We've hit the one end of the teenage behavior a few months before my son hit 13 - he is now starting to sleep in on weekends. Also this New Years (a month after turning 13) was the first time he stayed up until midnight (at his own choice). Previously, he was always ready for bed within an hour of the time he was used to, no matter what was going on - in the middle of a big family party I would ask "Are you ready for bed?" and it was always yes.

I'm afraid of the idea of him staying up later on typical evenings, but I guess it's part of growing up. There are lots of changes in these teen years.

Kristina Chew

@Survivingthesystem, Charlie didn't have notable sleeping problems until he was about 11 (onset of puberty). I can barely remember the days when he simply went to bed as requested -- and he was once the soundest of sleepers. Now a creak of the stairs can wake him.

Teen years make things quite 'interesting,' yes!

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