Of teen boys who can’t get to sleep at night…

clock at 2amTrue confessions time: I’m slowly losing my mind and my son is becoming a vampire, as far as I can tell. He’s just about 15yo, so part of this is the exciting roller coaster of adolescence, but meanwhile, he can’t seem to fall asleep until he’s utterly exhausted and as a result I seem to end up staying up until all hours of the night worrying and making sure he’s okay until I too am fried and pass out.

Two nights ago we were both up until 2am at which point he went downstairs to have a snack and I passed out. He figures he went to sleep about an hour or so later, after a fairly epic snack of three bowls of cereal and two eggs. Last night I got to sleep by 1am, which was a bit better, but I have no idea how late he stayed up: he’s still asleep and it’s 10am. And I have to wake up at 7am to get my other children to school. Ugh.

It’s hard on all of us, and it’s thrown his schooling way out of whack: He hasn’t made it to his school a single day this week. Worst though is that it’s clearly very frustrating for him and he is well aware of the physical and mental health consequences of being perpetually exhausted. When he does finally fall asleep, it’s a very unrestful sleep so he doesn’t wake up refreshed and ready to seize the day, but rather wakes up feeling like a truck ran over him during the night and slow to regain his bearings.

When I watch him sleeping, he kicks, he thrashes, he flips around and it’s rare that he’s breathing deeply for more than 10-15 seconds at a stretch. Classic food allergy issues, actually, particularly the restless legs.

We know it’s related to his food allergies. That’s probably the hardest part: at 15, he makes his own decisions, savvy of the consequences, but the 15yo mind has an incredibly hard time prioritizing health and restful sleep over the instant gratification of sugars, fats and proteins.

His blood tests reveal to us that he’s allergic to wheat, dairy and eggs and just before he went to bed last night he cooked himself up two eggs as a snack. Worst case midnight snack even without the allergies (proteins at bedtime = bad news) but with the allergy piece, it’s a double-whammy.

We’re working with various medical professionals but it really comes down to the cause and effect chain of eating and how that food affects his body, digestion, moods and sleep patterns.

When I’m not exhausted, it’s fascinating to watch the interplay of the two minds of my adolescent son: instant gratification, “screw it, nothing helps so I’m going to just eat what I like” versus the smart, thoughtful “I know I can’t get better unless I start now” identity.

I’ve long since thought that children far more embody the mythical Jekyll and Hyde of Robert Louis Stevenson fame than adults because they’re less sophisticated, less skilled at subsuming their urges and desires.

Which leaves us exhausted and him unable to sleep. Still.

Now pardon me while I sneak out and have a nap…

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