My youngest son has gone back to waking up between 4 and 4:30 am each morning. It's been a few weeks now since he's slept through the night. And I noticed this week and last week, his anxiety levels crept back up.
I'll take this as proof that the anxiety is somehow tied in to waking up early and not getting enough sleep. It could be his brain can't handle as much when he isn't rested, making him more anxious about unpredicted changes. Or maybe it's the other way around, he's waking up because he's anxious and can't get back to sleep.
Either way, we're back to seeing a number of problems we thought we had dealt with after our visit from the behavioural therapist. He's refusing to participate in school and refusing to transition from activity to activity both there and at home. He insists on having everything laid out for him, including the schedules of random people walking past the house (several of our neighbours would be surprised to discover they were walking to catch a plane ... I get bored with obvious answers). He's cranky and irritable and throws long extended tantrums.
When he first started to wake up early again, I thought about putting regular naps back in his schedule but I worried about encouraging the early wake-up time. When he gets up, he starts to play in his room, which would be great if he wasn't shouting and jumping around. So I get up with him and escort him downstairs and we watch TV together or he plays in the basement, which lets Alex and Dave continue to sleep until the alarm goes off.
However, now I'm thinking I'll have to be more proactive about managing his sleep. When he was getting 9-10 hours a night, he was doing much better. So if he starts cutting it short, I have to start fitting it in.
Besides, I could use a nap myself.