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11yo just cannot get to sleep- how to help?

(68 Posts)
Montmartre Mon 05-Oct-20 18:32:15

My DS has always had difficulty dropping off to sleep (other than as an infant, when he slept well!) and often takes up to an hour to fall asleep.
He's always had an extremely strong bedtime routine, and is pretty good at getting ready and going to bed, but since he went back to school he is falling asleep later and later.
He claims (I can't verify, but probably correct as there are clock chimes where we live) that it is now 1 o'clock when he falls asleep.
He gets up at 6:45 for school, so this is obviously far from ideal, and he's like a corpse in the morning poor thing.

He used to have anxiety when younger, and didn't sleep with that, but I know him well, and he is not anxious. He has changed schools and gone to secondary now, but the change in routine has been minimal- they are in one classroom all day, teacher comes to them, so not getting stressed and lost wandering round a big new environment. He was also very glad to go to secondary, and is quite mature for an 11yo, and ready to move up. The school day is also 30 minutes shorter than he is used to, and there are no extra-curricular activities at present, so he's not struggling with the changes.

He has good 'sleep hygiene' in that no screens/phones before bed, dark dark room, room is cool and bed is warm etc.

Any ideas on how we can get out of this cycle and get him sleeping well again please?

OP’s posts: |
glitterfarts Mon 05-Oct-20 18:33:43

buy melatonin online. DD2 is up until 1am every.single.night without it.

tofuschnitzel Mon 05-Oct-20 18:34:18

Have you tried white noise? You can buy a white noise machine, or use an app such as Sleepa. I use Sleepa and it is helpful to distract me from the thoughts whizzing round my head.

NoSquirrels Mon 05-Oct-20 18:36:29

What time is he heading up to bed? Sometimes you miss the sleepy window and so counter-intuitively a slightly later official bedtime can help break the cycle.

Have you experimented ever with any sleep or mindfulness apps? Audio books etc?

NoSquirrels Mon 05-Oct-20 18:38:41

And is he getting enough exercise and outdoor time on a regular basis? If his secondary is doing the in-one-room teaching plan then perhaps he’s too sedentary in the day? Post tea, pre bedtime family dog walk or bike ride a possibility?

Brissiegirl Mon 05-Oct-20 18:42:18

I found my teens slept better wearing an eye mask. Even when they woke in middle of the night, they fell asleep fast again as it was total blackout.

Chocolateteabag Mon 05-Oct-20 18:42:52

I would second melatonin, however maybe try a herbal or placebo alternative first?
Ds1 has anxiety phases but taking half a herbal sleep aid helps him a lot - I'm pretty sure it's just the concept that he has "taken something"
I use melatonin myself and I will try him on a very low dose of that should he start having more problems

However I am a rubbish sleeper and I now just live with it so he could just be like me

TattyMcBab Mon 05-Oct-20 18:46:04

Following with interest. My eight year old has always been bad at going to sleep. I hear him trying to go to sleep and he just doesn’t stay still. No matter what time he goes to sleep he wakes before 7 in the morning (and consequently the early evenings are tantrummy).

GreyishDays Mon 05-Oct-20 18:47:20

We found later to bed helped at this age.

GinWithASplashOfTonic Mon 05-Oct-20 18:47:21

ASMR

WhispersRed on YouTube has some specifically aimed at children

RepeatSwan Mon 05-Oct-20 18:50:30

I would revisit your certainty that it is not anxiety.

You make very rational points - but seem to totally ignore the elephant in the room that all the changes at school are stressful and the backdrop of covid is grim.

My own children report that school is weird.

Montmartre Mon 05-Oct-20 18:58:43

Melatonin? Isn't that a prescription drug in the UK?

We have tried music/white noise tofuschnitzel. It's not doing anything for him, unfortunately.

He goes up around 8:30, lights off at 9 nosquirrels. Even in lockdown, he was in bed by 9/9:30 tbh. He is tired he just can't drop off.

I will dig out an eye mask, thank you Brissiegirl we have a couple hanging around. It is pitch black in his room though.

We did try camomile tea, but he hated it.

RepeatSwan my first instinct was his anxiety returning...but none of his coping mechanisms and behaviours are present. He chews incessantly if he's anxious- pens, pencils, fingers, clothes, duvet etc. He's not doing any of those.

OP’s posts: |
Montmartre Mon 05-Oct-20 19:00:03

And he is hugely enjoying school, has made new friends, is keeping on top of the homework well too (which was an issue until Y6 tbh).

OP’s posts: |
MegBusset Mon 05-Oct-20 19:01:19

DS2 has gone through phases of this, what has helped:

- Fresh air and exercise, as much as humanly possible
- window open at night to keep the room cool
- room dark but not too dark, just a small night light if needed
- no screens for at least an hour before bed
- I told DS2 that if he really couldn't sleep it was OK to sit up and read for half an hour (it's what I do when I can't sleep!) - just helps to break the cycle of lying in bed thinking 'I can't sleep'

Montmartre Mon 05-Oct-20 19:01:28

TattyMcBab he is quiet but wriggly. DH thinks he would drop off if he'd just keep still! I'm not sure.

OP’s posts: |
Nat6999 Mon 05-Oct-20 19:03:08

Ds was prescribed Phenergan by his consultant when melatonin stopped working for him. You can buy it over the counter but don't mention you are buying it for sleep. His dose was 25mg per night.

Montmartre Mon 05-Oct-20 19:04:13

Hmm, I think he isn't active as much as last year, but that is quite tricky when PE/games has been reduced and extra-curricular clubs aren't running. He's not a very active chap- he's a big reader, and he likes computers. In lockdown he did go for a walk every day, but it was only half an hour family stroll really, not what he's used to in term time.

OP’s posts: |
Montmartre Mon 05-Oct-20 19:05:43

ginwithasplashoftonic how do you keep the room dark with YouTube playing please?

OP’s posts: |
MegBusset Mon 05-Oct-20 19:05:56

Lights off at 9? Might be a bit early - mine have lights off at 10 and asleep by 10.30 ish usually. Can you shift the evening routine and fit in some physical activity (preferably outdoors) with the extra time?

AlwaysLatte Mon 05-Oct-20 19:07:01

My son went through a phase of this. Same here no screens but we bought a little CD player and some story CDs (Roald Dahl, David Williams and Harry Potter), also a lava lamp, and he found it restful and rarely managed a whole chapter before he dropped off!

Montmartre Mon 05-Oct-20 19:07:52

The difficulty is his older sister who even though in Y10 still needs to be in bed by 8:30-9pm or she is a nightmare. The tantrums we have had about the unfairness of him staying up later than her have to be seen to be believed hmm

Maybe we just have to suck it up and let him read later?

OP’s posts: |
AlwaysLatte Mon 05-Oct-20 19:07:54

NB that wasn't instead of us reading to him, we did that too.

lifestooshort123 Mon 05-Oct-20 19:09:18

My 12-yr old grandson can be like this and it's a vicious circle - if he worries about not falling asleep then he doesn't. He stays with me every Friday night and we found his dropping off improved when we took the pressure off. We leave his door open while I fidget about ciearing up, etc, and he likes hearing me out there. This seems to help and he drops off quite quickly. He also worries about waking in the night (which does happen sometimes) so he is allowed his ipad in there in case he does. Since we agreed this would be OK he hasn't woken in the night since - it seems to reassure him.

Montmartre Mon 05-Oct-20 19:09:42

We had to use music/white noise always latte as he would just listen to the whole of the book otherwise!

OP’s posts: |
lesleyw1953 Mon 05-Oct-20 19:10:53

Have you tried getting story tapes? War and Peace should do the trick!

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