One of the common challenges that parents of gifted children face is dealing with a child who doesn't seem to want or need as much sleep as most children do. Not every gifted child has this issue, but it comes up again and again in casual conversation among parents of gifted kids. These children stop napping very early on, and may bounce around into the wee hours of the morning, oblivious to their parent's discomfort. A ten minute catnap in the car seat can be enough to sustain a busy one year old through the entire day and well into evening. What's a parent to do?
Linda Silverman of the Gifted Development Center in Denver, believes that gifted babies may require less sleep than other babies. They also may crave more stimulation. The authors of Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults have found that approximately 20% of gifted children experience some type of sleep disturbance, which may include more vivid dreams, nightmares, sleep terrors, and sleepwalking. Increased physical and mental activity during the day may help alleviate some of these problems, along with a structured bedtime routine and quiet wind-down time allowed for introverts. Some gifted children may appear to need less sleep when they actually require the normal amount, but on a more unique timetable. Their internal clock may be telling them to sleep 11 pm to nine am, while the family schedule demands them to be up at six or seven in the morning.
I myself, have four children, three of whom did not sleep through the night until around age three or four. I can say without any exaggeration that I went six and a half years without even ONE night of uninterrupted sleep, thanks to my two middle children. My current toddler is no better; even as I've hardened my attachment parenting heart and allowed her to cry it out a few times, she merely succeeded in waking the entire house and keeping us all up for hours. We've also dealt with a sleepwalker and several sleeptalkers. I am pleased to note that the sleeptalkers are usually giggling or chattering cheerfully, and I don't think we have any significant issues with nightmares or terrors.
Sigh... at this point I resign myself to at least another year before I will be able to have a solid eight hours of rest. It could be worse, I suppose; what if we had twins?