I collected my son from his respite care yesterday afternoon

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    Their lack of sleep goes on for days. The first stage is when you sort of daydream. I would run but I'm tired! . You see it is whilst we are asleep that our body restores itself. Insomnia is a horrible thing and there are even clinics set up to deal with the problem. Some stages benefit you more than others, and during the course of the night you will go through these stages multiple times.

     My heart sank, not because he's brought home some more but because the two he'd just bought were different episodes of the videos I'd just given away. The blood nourishes and repairs our muscles and our immune system turns on. If my son had been "normal" I would never have contemplated disposing of his possessions without asking his permission first. I felt like some sort of thief and hoped no-one would see me but they'd gone! I returned home dejected and my troubled mind kept me awake. During the second stage you feel drowsy, but it is the third and fourth stages which benefit you most. That's when you are in what is known as Deep Sleep and accounts for almost 25% of the process. Fortunately I'm here to tell the tale but there are numerous similar situations which have a different ending. This weekend he went away for respite care and as he has just celebrated his 18th birthday I decided to get rid of some of the older ones which I considered inappropriate for his age. Now don't get all excited and think I'm going to reveal something really juicy or controversial. It is, however, the stage during which you dream. However, it is not necessarily the quantity of sleep which affects people but rather the quality. I couldn't sleep.

     To prove the point one man actually went without sleep for almost 19 days in 1980 but that's certainly not to be recommended. I tossed and turned and thought what a rotten mother I was until eventually I could stand it no longer. I did something I shouldn't and had a guilty conscience.Last night I had a really restless night and today I feel really tired and lethargic. Apparently he'd found them in some charity shops. I realised he must have been collecting them. You can take medication, listen to music, try relaxation techniques and self help routines. It's just the wrong message. Insomnia affects approximately 60 million people, usually more women than men and can drive some people to the brink of madness. I can remember how awful it made me feel and once I wrote off my car because I think I fell asleep at the wheel. Until my autistic son was about eight I didn't get one single good night's sleep. Anyway, whilst he was gone I placed some of them outside the door of a local charity shop feeling good that someone else might get enjoyment from them. Fortunately, when I arrived first thing this morning and explained the situation they kindly returned the videos to me. My son doesn't really speak so I had no way of knowing but once the possibility hit me I knew I had to get them back. I have had many sleepless nights over the years. He got his name in the record books but I doubt that it did much for his overall health. It's not just a case of relaxing, closing your eyes and then waking up sometime later. Infact there are five different stages of sleep using different brain waves. It's nothing like that.

     However, when I collected my son from his respite care yesterday afternoon he proudly produced two new videos. The realisation that there are different stages of sleep explains why sometimes you can wake up feeling refreshed and at other times you feel absolutely awful. The experience taught me a lesson though and hopefully tonight I will be able to sleep. As dawn was breaking I left my son sleeping in the care of his elder brother and went to the shop to try and retrieve them. I didn't realise until recently that sleep is actually quite a complex process. I had to get them back and decided to go the charity shop as soon as it opened. On the other hand, two of the best things to help insomnia are exposure to natural sunlight and exercise, so bearing that in mind I am now off for a brisk walk in the lovely spring sunshine. Sleep deprivation creates all sorts of problems, not least the ability to think straight. That's why people sleep so much when they are ill. Also, why you can only sometimes remember your dreams. They just take up space. He also has a huge collection of old videos which he rarely watches. You see my son has autism. You can even buy Counting Sheep night attire but I never could understand how the vision of energetic ovines leaping over a gate could send people Hanging Door Roller to sleep. The final stage which is known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) also accounts for about 25% of the process and whilst no-one is absolutely sure why it happens, scientists believe it is when you absorb learning. It's my own fault though. Actually, I could have got rid of most of them using those criteria, but like most people with autism my son likes familiar things so the ones he's watched since a child are his favourites. I had one sleepless night but many people aren't as fortunate.