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What to do with a child that doesn't bloody sleep?

(51 Posts)
JBJ Tue 10-Jan-17 23:43:02

Ds (10) went to bed at 9pm, same as every school night and tonight, as every other night, he's still awake now. He doesn't mess about as such, but he's laying in bed humming/tapping fingers on the bed/fidgeting etc and sitting in the room underneath his bedroom I can hear every rattle and tap. I'm very aware that we have creaky old floors and thin walls and the neighbours can probably hear him too.

I've been up and explained that I understand he can't force himself to sleep, but can he not just lay still! He totally denies being awake and swears blind I wake him up every time I go in.

It drives me mad! I need to sleep myself but can't get to sleep whilst he's still rattling round. I get that he can't help not being able to sleep - I'm a bit of an insomniac myself - and he's got asd and ADHD which I know can affect sleep, but I'm sure he needs more than 7 hours a night, which is the maximum he ever gets.

We have a routine of no screens after 8pm, teeth cleaned and in bed by 9, then he can read in bed for 15-20 mins. He has a low night light as is scared of the dark and a fan on for white noise as he likes this. What bugs me is that he makes no effort to try and go to sleep; he totally understands that nobody ever fell randomly to sleep whilst humming and waving their arms about, and he really needs to lay still and close his eyes to have a fighting chance, but he totally denies moving despite me seeing and hearing him!!! Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh

Any tips???

Littlelostdinosaur Tue 10-Jan-17 23:44:36

White noise for you? Sorry, not much help!

JBJ Tue 10-Jan-17 23:47:39

I've tried that but I get paranoid that we're going to get burgled in the night and I wouldn't hear a thing! Also hate the thought that the neighbours might be able to hear him whilst they're trying to sleep, as we do have really thin walls and noise travels. I've laid carpet in his bedroom and moved bed away from the walls as much as I can to try and help with this though.

TheCakes Tue 10-Jan-17 23:48:12

What if you just let him read till he drops off? Or would he be up all night reading?
My DS also 10 takes ages to drop off but he reads and listens to audio books.

JBJ Tue 10-Jan-17 23:50:14

He'd be up all night. He just never seems to get to a point where he drops until between midnight and 1am, then he's awake again about 7.30am

MatildaTheCat Tue 10-Jan-17 23:50:29

I'm sure you've tried this but would a boring story cd quieten him? If he's bored maybe that encourages him to thrash around. Or a very quiet, dull talking radio show?

zzzzz Tue 10-Jan-17 23:51:01

Stop worrying about the neighbors. Go to sleep and leave him be.

dalmatianmad Tue 10-Jan-17 23:51:11

Try him without the fan? I cannot get my head around the white noise thing, doesn't it make him cold? confused

JBJ Tue 10-Jan-17 23:54:54

Without the fan he's downstairs every two minutes telling me I've got the tv on too loud/a car outside made a noise/a sparrow farted in the next village grin It's only a tiny little desk fan and it's in the corner of the room so he can't feel it, but he can't sleep at all without it.

I haven't tried audio books, no, so I'll give that a go.

Catgotyourbrain Wed 11-Jan-17 00:09:20

Ask the doc for Melatonin. Is he on meds for ADHD? If he's settled on a dose and isn't sleeping they should be able to prescribe melatonin. Ask specifically for Circadin which is a slow release version.

The whole of the US and Europe can buy this medication in pharmacies and health food shops- its only here that it's prescription. It's a natural sleep regulation hormone, had no side effects and bloody works, DS1 is ten too anc ADHD and its been a total life saver

Often they want evidence so if you have a CAMHS appointment I recommend an app produced by the Evelyn's Childrdn's Hospital at St Thomas' in London called kids sleep dr Some trust use this as part of charting sleep problems- its s glorfied sleep diary. Do it before going to GP or CAMHS because they won't help you unless you have kept a sleep diary for two weeks.

cantthinkofabloodyname Wed 11-Jan-17 00:13:36

I was going to suggest a sleep diary & ask to try melatonin. My DS can't get off to sleep without melatonin either.

JBJ Wed 11-Jan-17 00:15:45

I spoke to his paed and she's not keen on prescribing melatonin. She says if that's how much sleep he needs then he's obviously functioning on it, but I'll ask again at the next meds review.

I'll download that app now, thanks smile

Raisensaretoddlercrack Wed 11-Jan-17 00:19:18

Have you tried teaching him relaxation techniques, guided meditation or self hypnosis? My DM always did these techniques with me and I've always slept like the dead and been able to practice the techniques in times of stress.

Also I would recommend white noise for him. We use the "sleepy sounds" ap on "heavy rain" for our DCs when they are ill or overtired. I use it for myself to sleep after night shifts.

JBJ Wed 11-Jan-17 00:33:43

Yeah I've tried relaxation techniques as I listen to a relaxation/hypnosis app to help me relax and sleep sometimes, but he won't concentrate for long enough to see if it works!

With regards to melatonin, you appear to be able to buy chewable tablets, liquid etc online - would this be the same sort of stuff that would be prescribed?

Catgotyourbrain Wed 11-Jan-17 07:11:38

Yes you can buy easily online. I'm waiting for some for myself actually grin. Are you in UK and under CAMHS? A standard paediatrician won't know as much about these meds as a specialist psychiatrist at CAMHS. It's totally part of ADHD and (having recently been to a talk about this very subject run by my local ADHD parent group) it's very much part and parcel of ADHD to have sleep problems - and indeed some specialists think the symptoms of sleep deprivation may actually be causing most of the ADHD symptoms in some children: in any event it doesn't help concentration, and self control behaviour wise. To say 'oh he's fine that must be how much sleep he needs' is ignorant and dismissive in the extreme!

Talk the talk : say you've done the sleep diary , you practice good 'sleep hygiene' and he needs melatonin. Don't be told it's 'only for three months' either- if they're saying that you need a new psychiatrist.

Children with ADHD often lack the hormone melatonin as it builds up in the body during the day to trigger sleep at bedtime, you don't have it- you won't sleep.

But yes. If you have to buy online, do

teaandakitkat Wed 11-Jan-17 07:26:44

I have a 9 yr old like this. But he's a nightmare to get up in the morning so he obviously does need more sleep.
I made him a weighted blanket and he seems to find it easier to lie still under it till he nods off. He still doesn't go straight to sleep but he's definitely better

JBJ Wed 11-Jan-17 07:37:54

Cat yes I'm uk but not under CAMHS, just see the paed. Would I ask her or the GP for a referral to CAMHS? We have a meds review coming up so I shall go armed with a sleep diary smile

In the meantime, if I were to order some melatonin, what strength/dosage should I go for? It ranges from 1mg to 10mg online. Would have to be liquid or chewable as he can't swallow tablets.

Tea a weighted blanket sounds like a good idea, I'll give that a go as he does like to be wrapped up tight.

Oneiroi Wed 11-Jan-17 07:50:13

Around 20% of people naturally have a 'night owl' body clock so will naturally be awake until 12/1 every night and ideally need to wake up later. There are biological differences in the brain that cause this so is isn't something you can necessarily change. Perhaps he is one of that 20%?

Some things can be done to try to shift the natural body clock to a small extent (adjusting light levels, reducing evening use of screens) but it sounds like you've tried this already.

If this is the cause of him not sleeping until later, the best solution is that his schedule is adjusted to accommodate his natural sleep pattern as much as possible, rather than him being forced to conform to a sleep pattern that will never really work for him.

I am a night owl and I remember as a child my parents forcing me to go to bed at 8/9pm and lie in the dark for hours wide awake, every night for years and years, even though I told them I could not sleep at that time. It was really cruel. I eventually resorted to reading using the light from a streetlight outside, damaging my eyes in the process.

Catgotyourbrain Wed 11-Jan-17 08:04:38

The standard dose they will give on Nhs is 2mg. In practice for us this helps but 5mg is working significantly better for us. I've taken ten and I know kids who have ten.

He asks for it and really really appreciates it. At ten years old I think does understand what it does for him

JBJ Wed 11-Jan-17 08:30:54

Oneiroi I genuinely think he is just predisposed to sleep at that time, but I can't let him stay up till midnight else I'll have school down on me like a ton of bricks when he announces that he's allowed to stay up late, as it looks like I'm enabling him to b tired all day!

Thanks Cat I'm going to order some today and give it a try and then at least I'll know if it's a battle worth fighting with the paed at our appointment next month smile

MaryManchego Wed 11-Jan-17 09:15:47

@Catgotyourbrain can you tell me more about the three month thing? I discussed the possibility of trying it with my sons paed recently but I've decided to wait atm. No diagnosis but being assessed for ASD.

PhilODox Wed 11-Jan-17 09:27:00

Is he tired next day? My brother genuinely only needed 6 hours sleep as a child, and so was allowed to read in bed until 12 every night. He still woke at 6 by himself, got washed and dressed and went to breakfast without problem.
He sleeps about 4 and a half hours a night as an adult.

SilkThreads Wed 11-Jan-17 09:28:30

Also interested

I have a Ds who has NEVER slept, from infancy on.

He is now 12 and drops off around 12-1am and consequently struggles to get up.

Dd is the same but not as extreme.

We practice sleep hygiene too. It does sod all sad

JBJ Wed 11-Jan-17 09:29:05

No he isn't tired but school will jump on him going to bed late and blame any behaviours during the day on that as I know what they are like!

Catgotyourbrain Wed 11-Jan-17 09:32:53

@Marymanchego NICE states that it's for reestablishing a sleep pattern and as such should be prescribed on a short term basis. Our CAMHS psychiatrist has done studies on it and says it's very helpful and there's no reason not to continue - especially in the face of a very tired ten year old who can't function as well.

As I said in Europe they sell a special kids version over the counter, and in the US it's classed as a 'food supplement' and can be bought in health food shops. It's not a drug as such - it's a hormone and the same as the one your body produces. The way it works is your brain secretes it during the day and it builds up over the day to a point where it tells your body clock that it's bed time. The circadian system works on a 25 hour cycle (this has been proven in experiments with people volunteering to live for a long period without day and night cues in a closed laboratory) and relies on light and hormone production to refine the bodily rhythm to 24 hours. Melatonin is integral to this and is the reason people take it for jet lag - it resets your clock.

I think it's fairly explosive for nhs to prescribe - god knows why as it's not really expensive online. It doesn't hang about in your system more than a few hours and you won't be tired in the morning after taking it

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