At Caroline's therapy center, there is a waterbed.
It's a genuine disco era waterbed. The kind you'd have right next to your lava lamp.
Caroline, of course, adores it. At least once a week, she insists we sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and various other preschool ditties as she floats along, probably reminiscing about the good ole' days in early intervention.
Last week, when her sleeping was nothing short of horrific, we almost wondered if we should start searching Craigs List.
Could a waterbed be the magic sleep bullet? Maybe, but this household didn't find out. Besides, as you can see in the photo, it's slightly more excitatory than calming.
Still needing a sleep solution, I turned my research to specific nootropics that have drowsiness as a side effect.
No 'O Tropics -- not a term coined to indicate there's no warm weather in Ireland -- are a class of "smart" supplements, nutraceuticals, foods and drugs that boost mental functions.
If you're wondering more about what Nootropics are, there's a website for that: "What are Nootropics?"
Cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration all stand to improve with nootropics.
They work in a variety of ways. Either by altering the availability of the brain's supply of neurochemicals (neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones), stimulating nerve growth, or improving the brain's oxygen supply (some say similar to hyperbaric oxygen).
I searched the nootropic list for those with drowsiness as a side effect and settled on the herb, Bacopa.
Benefits: lowers anxiety, improves memory, helps focus Side Effects: possible drowsiness Dosage: 100 mg - 300 mg once or twice per day
And it delivered just what it promised.
She is sleeping better, more focused, reads aloud faster and seems less anxious.
The changes happened within an hour. We can also give it during the day and it doesn't seem to make her drowsy.
So although it's only been 5 days, 4 blissful nights of sleep with Bacopa on our team are priceless.
Inspired by the list of nootropics, Piracetam will be next.
Benefits: improves multiple aspects of cognition Side Effects: no side effects at safe doses Dosage: 800 - 1600 mg, two or three times a day
Of course, we're saving it until after the AutismOne conference later this week. At which point, we'll probably have a long list of ideas to try for the upcoming "Summer of Biomed."
If you could use inspiration or ideas... you can't go wrong with the AutismOne conference. And if attending isn't an option, there's live streaming video.
No time to view it live? The video recordings will be posted after the conference, so check the schedule of events to select your favorite topics.
In the end, leaving the water bed as a novelty in the occupational therapy room was the right decision for all.
We'll certainly be repeat buyers of Bacopa. Stay tuned for our adventures with Piracetam and others from the Nootropic List.
Perhaps it'll become our biomedical version of a summer reading program.
NOTE: When we increased Caroline's dose past 50 mg, she seemed to have the side effect of vivid dreams. GO SLOW with this herb. Caroline is 50 lbs so adjust accordingly. About 50 mg provides the perfect blend of excellent sleep and no waking from dreams!