Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gifted Kids, Too Busy to Sleep

Early mornings are times when my thoughts are the most clear, although when I am happiest and most content, I also get my deepest sleep in the pre-dawn to 9:30 time frame(I think it has something to do with cheating the work day). But lately, I can't sleep. Too much "life" has my mind a blur and my body a wreck. And, throughout my life, when I have needed to sleep the most, I have been unable to sleep. I have been this way since I was a kid. And I must then ask, are we all this way?

Gifted kids notoriously sleep less than their non-gifted peers. But, do they actually just need less sleep or do heightened states of sensory arousal and overly busy minds just keep them from sleeping? I believe the latter is true, especially for those gifted children who must use extra energy to compensate for their skill deficits. Being gifted means that we take in more information. When we process, we have more informaiton to sort
And when our minds race, we cover more ground. Dabrowski wrote extensively about the over-exciteabilities of gifted children but wasn't he really telling us that gifted kids take, process and respond to more? Yet, no matterr our gifts, more takes energy. Energy shortages create mind-body asynchrony (ie, heightened response, sensitivity and over-response or exciteability). Gifted kids have more going on and as such are required to respond to more? Does this then not make them more prone to my current condition, too much life =too busy to sleep. That may in itself not be a problem but I believe it is the "root of all evil" so to speak for our twice-exceptional children.

I have started thinking about the mind-body connection a lot these days. It has been easy to do because my "body" has been sick. Low back pain, a wierd summer cold that won't let up... and I am faced with the realizatiaon that I can't actually remember when I last felt calm and centered. I am overexciteable and overly sensitive but my mind is on a roll. I also don't remember my last good night's sleep and while I don't feel particularly tired, in fact I am never sleepy these days, my body is telling me that I am exhausted. But like a lot of people with heightened sensitivity, I'm pretty good at "leaving" my body to get at my mind's work. And that I believe is at the heart of too busy to sleep. My mind is working faster than my body can handle.

So,with that in mind, I might suggest that we all take a good look around, and realize that a wound up and falling apart gifed kid may not actually need more to think about or more stimulation. And at a deeper level, these 2E kids may not have a mental health disorder at all, but they might just need a good old "boring" summer vacation to get back to nature, get back to to their bodies and get some rest. Happy summer, get some sleep, and I will try to do the same.

Marlo Payne Thurman is a private consultant specializing in identifying and meeting the needs of children who are gifted, yet asynchronous in their development. Marlo's clients circle the globe. For more information,about services or to contact Marlo directly e-mail to

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