12 year old dd suddenly having trouble falling asleep at night. How can I help her get past this?

(27 Posts)
Earlybird Wed 15-May-13 17:19:15

For the past 3 months, my 12 year old dd has had trouble falling asleep perhaps 2 nights a week.

She is an active child, so should be physically tired. I don't think she is especially worried about anything (I've asked). I think she simply has a very 'active' mind, and is currently having trouble turning it 'off' so she can fall asleep. (I've also wondered if the two insomniacs she's come into contact with over the past few months have introduced her to the concept.)

I've spoken to her multiple times about clearing her mind, imagining a completely black sky, meditating, etc but with little success. She finally fell asleep last night at 12.30, and of course, feels exhausted today. Help please!

queenebay Wed 15-May-13 17:21:56

Would she listen to the radio? I used to have the same problem but loved listening to low down music

Earlybird Wed 15-May-13 17:26:14

Maybe. But I wonder if she'd get lost in the music, rather than clearing her mind to sleep.

She sometimes turns on a 'white noise' sound machine to block out household sounds - but we aren't noisy/loud, and live in a quiet area so not sure how much it is needed.

anklebitersmum Wed 15-May-13 17:35:32

What about trying a basic relaxation technique? I use one my old Doc taught me where you settle down, relax, hands at sides or on tummy (in lap if sat up) and then breathe in through nose and out through mouth nice and slowly whilst concentrating on your tummy going up (breathe in) and down (breathe out).

You mentally repeat 'i am relaxed and sleepy', 'i am relaxed' on the way up, 'and sleepy' on the way down tummy-wise.

Sounds mental but it really works and you can tell yourself whatever..I am relaxed and confident exam times, I am well and happy good if you're stressed but regardless you get a fab night's sleep or have five minutes 'down time'.

Ilikethebreeze Wed 15-May-13 17:43:56

Is she worried about falling asleep?

Ilikethebreeze Wed 15-May-13 17:44:22

Is her room dark enough?

Meditation sleep podcast?

NorbertDentressangle Wed 15-May-13 17:50:28

Is she watching TV or on computer before bed?

They say you should have quite a long period of screen-free time before bed to aid sleep.

trice Wed 15-May-13 17:55:59

Lots of sunlight exposure during the day, reducing blue light in the evening (screens). Bedroom "hygiene" - not reading in bed etc.

sarahandemily Wed 15-May-13 17:56:39

Like what anklebitersmum said but in your head tell each part of your body to go to sleep starting at the feet and working upwards. I have a very active mind and it sometimes works for me.

Also I find podcasts or audio books work well for me. I get really engrossed in them which allows my mind to relax and forget I'm trying to go to sleep and next thing I know I'm snoring away.

Lavender under the pillow and ovaltine might help too

30ish Wed 15-May-13 17:59:28

I remember experiencing this when I was 12/13. It was awful! The more I worried about not sleeping, the worse I slept! I Used to go to the toilet all through the night. I think it was hormonal on reflection. What worked for me was a Paul McKenna cd (dont laugh please). I played it through headphones and dropped off no problem. The best thing is I now sleep at the drop of a hat and never ever experience sleep problems no matter what is happening in my life. Hope your dd gets a good nights sleep soon.

Earlybird Wed 15-May-13 18:01:31

Her room is dark, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Re screentime: she doesn't watch telly during the week, but often will have just finished homework just before bed (some/all done on computer). Not sure how to alter that as her after school schedule doesn't permit homework to be done earlier.

I think she is now starting to get a bit anxious about falling asleep. Would melatonin help, or is that a bad habit to start?

As I said in OP, this is a fairly new issue so not sure why it is suddenly a problem when there never was difficulty before.

Primrose123 Wed 15-May-13 18:08:13

I am like your DD every night. If I go to sleep before midnight I wake at about 3 and can't go back.

I also struggle to fall asleep. I have tried lots of relaxation techniques but they don't work for me. The only thing that makes me go to sleep is reading. I read until my eyes start to close, then put the light out and fall asleep.

Sometimes on holiday we have a tv in the bedroom, and that really makes me fall asleep quickly. I know it's not supposed to be good for you, but it seems to work for me.

NorbertDentressangle Wed 15-May-13 18:13:08

How about going back to a bedtime routine : a bath and a cup of warm milk to help her relax?

A few drops of lavender oil on her pillow? Aren't there also special 'sleep sprays' that you can buy - aromatherapy blends that aid relaxation and sleep?

Ilikethebreeze Wed 15-May-13 20:08:56

Had a further think.
I too remember being a bit like this around that age.
And it is only about 2 nights a week that this happens, though actually, that is enough.

Doing homework right before bedtime, wouldnt work for me. I always need some relaxation time before sleep. I couldnt possibly go straight from homwwork to sleep. No way.

The other thing I can think of, is what is called horizontal rest on here.
To know that if you cant sleep, you rest. Rest is actually good.
It also means it takes away the worry of going to sleep.

exexpat Wed 15-May-13 20:25:43

Could she be getting to the age where she needs less sleep? It might be worth letting her stay up an extra half-hour or hour to see if being up longer means she gets to sleep faster. If I try to go to bed too early, I usually end up lying there wide awake well past the time I would normally have gone to sleep...

A slightly later bedtime could also give her a winding-down break between homework and bedtime to listen to music, read a book, have a relaxing bath or whatever.

kritur Wed 15-May-13 20:39:11

On a chemical level, Weetabix, warm milk and banana has all the right chemicals for helping sleep. Also perhaps something like yoga. She needs to mimic the falling to sleep cycle which tends towards getting warm and then a gradual drop in body temp. Yoga raises the temp and relaxes the muscles.

apatchylass Wed 15-May-13 20:50:29

After homework, a slow bath with low lighting and soft music. She's better off winding down slowly and going to bed at 10 or 10.30 than rushing straight from homework to get to bed by 9.30 then lying awake for hours.

A snack, like Kritur suggests. Make sure her room is warm and her bed clothes a little heavy as that might help stop her from feeling restless. Do prayers together, or if you're not religious, just go over the best parts of the day - good things to recall before sleep.

No harm in having a radio on, turned softly to gentle music - Classic FM used to be good for DS1 when he had insomnia. Make sure she doesn't have access to her phone/ipod etc - she needs to avoid anything that could switch her mind back on. Can also be good to write in a journal or read last thing, just to clear her head. Making sure her room is fairly tidy and clothes are laid out so she knows she will have a peaceful start next day might help too.

Earlybird Wed 15-May-13 22:01:00

Some very good suggestions here - thank you.

I also wonder if perhaps she is getting to the stage of needing less sleep - as exexpat suggests.

Will give some of these ideas a go to see if we can find a solution to what is hopefully, a temporary 'blip'.

NorbertDentressangle Wed 15-May-13 22:26:01

Actually thinking about 13 yo DDs sleep patterns, she went through a phase of not being able to get to sleep.

I think it might be part of that transition to where she is now ie. able to stay awake quite late especially if I forget to check that she hasn't got her ipod touch in her room but still get through the week OK and then have massive lie-ins at the weekend.

(sounds like the build up to being a proper student! smile)

We use bedtime relaxation CDs for our kids when they are having trouble falling asleep. It usually does the trick.
I can remember this happening to me about that age but I had a lot on my plate. It sounds like it might be quite normal.

chattychattyboomba Wed 15-May-13 22:45:20

I went through this at around the same time. Lavender oil? Also tell her to stop 'trying' to fall asleep and just let it be. No pressure. This helped me as the more i thought about what time it was the more of an adrenaline surge i would get trying to will myself to sleep. If all else fails see the doctor. Seriously. Sleep deprivation can be very debilitating at that age.

lucindapie Thu 16-May-13 03:44:20

It sounds counter intuitive but lots of giggling and play wrestling before bed really helps kids relax. Anything that makes your daughter laugh as that helps release tension that builds up in the day. Maybe a pillow fight ? I'm thinking that if she can have an hour of fun and giggles she might fall asleep relaxed and happy having forgotten the story of the two insomniacs. grin

apatchylass Thu 16-May-13 16:09:10

Lucinda - is that right? That's really interesting. My two would have a pillow fight or tickle tournament every night and get so excited if we have one but I'm always worried it'll rev them up before bed because neither of them sleeps much in the first place.

lucindapie Sat 18-May-13 09:15:25

yes, Spatchylass, it's true! Try revving them up a bit and seeing if they will sleep better. Tickling is not so good as often the laughter in involuntary, but anything where you are fighting together and there is natural laughter coming will help them relax, let go of tensions from the day and sleep better. It is counter-intutive but it really works, and the best thing is that it is lots of fun!

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