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Sleep problems in a 12 yo!!! Please help. Also dreading Xmas eve...

(33 Posts)
fartmeistergeneral Fri 12-Nov-10 09:14:19

My 12 yo ds has been waking in the night since late summer, and finds it really hard to go back to sleep. I thought at the time it was nervousness at starting high school, but it's never gone away, even though he seems to quite enjoy school and hasn't had any worries when there.

He tends to wake about 12midnight or 1am and can't get back to sleep, feels sick and panics that he's actually going to be sick and that makes it all worse. He insists on putting his big light on as opposed to his wee reading light. He then reads for a while (how long??) and eventually drops off - or comes through to me very upset saying he's going to be sick. I'm very firm with him and always explain that he only feels sick because his body needs to sleep, that there's nothing I can do and to go back to bed.

Last night he woke at midnight and then again at 5am. When I went through to wake him at 7.15am, he was already awake and reading, and couldn't tell me how long he'd been awake. Also, at midnight, he actually went to the front door and opened it (always says he needs fresh air to not be sick) but then left it unlocked and I noticed our driveway gate was open although we always shut it without fail. Was he out in the driveway in the middle of the night??? Is he cracking up and what can I do?

Xmas eve is another issue. He's very easily excited and about 3 years ago, he woke at 2am and didn't get back to sleep - he coped with Xmas Day OK, but on Boxing Day his body was so knackered that he lay in bed ALL DAY, not able to speak, eat or even watch TV! Because of all the recent sleep problems, you can imagine I'm dreading Xmas eve....

TheLemur Fri 12-Nov-10 13:49:58

Not much advice but wanted to bump for you. It could be that he's still anxious about settling into school if he only started there in Sept. Does he do lots of exercise to tire his body out/get rid of adrenaline & nervous energy? It could be worth seeing the GP? Or giving him Rennie to settle his tummy? Not sure, sorry. Hopefully someone else has advice.

fartmeistergeneral Fri 12-Nov-10 14:11:38

Thanks for bumping. My dh also suggested taking him to doctors, but I think the doc will just say: exercise/healthy eating/not too much TV/not too much video gaming - which we are aware of anyway. Sigh.

fartmeistergeneral Fri 12-Nov-10 14:52:24

will keep bumping in the hope that someone else has gone through this..

kalo12 Fri 12-Nov-10 20:01:52

well not really too much advice other than i suffered from terrible nightmares for years from childhood to adulthood, only with counselling did it get better

the other thing is trying to include magnesium supplements as these help you sleep and are a natural tranquiliser, they really hleped me to sleep after two years of a non sleeping baby I'd lost all ability to get back to sleep.

other suggestions i can think of are having lots of carbs for evening meal, warm bath, cup of weak cocoa

ForMashGetSmash Fri 12-Nov-10 20:43:46

So does he get any excercise? Is he a bright kid? It's a trait of a very lively mind...and funnily enough (not that I am hugely bright) when I was about your DS age, I also got ino a habit of getting up at weird times...I used to go outside as well...but I never felt sick.

With me it was more of a lust for life...if I were you I would take the lightbulb out of his main light...if he only has the choice of his lamp he may fall asleep again with that on...not the big one

RememberToPlaywiththeKids Fri 12-Nov-10 21:37:30

Has anything happened to him recently - like injuries / falls / bumps to his head / sore back or particular stresses other than school?

Where are you exactly - I would def recommend you take him to see his GP to rule out any genuine cause of nausea and also take him to see a cranial osteopath.

midnightmunchies Fri 12-Nov-10 21:51:23

No real experience of this other than I am not a great sleeper - due to working shifts and stress.
Have you tried keeping a diary of his food/exercise/school to see if any of these have an effect - making it better or worse. Might help your cause if you take him to the GP.

Have you tried any alternative medicines like the Bach flower Rescue Remedy or the Jan de Vries essences?

definitely thin GP is worth a try too.

midnightmunchies Fri 12-Nov-10 21:52:06

think not thin!

GetTheHalloweenPartyStarted Fri 12-Nov-10 21:52:23

Could he be dehydrated? I sometimes wake up feeling sick if I am dehydrated and it is horrid. Perhaps you could suggest that he drinks a glass of water and he will then either feel better (if it is dehydrated) or be sick (and at least then it would be done with)

c0rns1lk Fri 12-Nov-10 21:55:27

GP will not do precribe anything probably - could ask for a referral from the GP to another agency though if it is affecting his life (it must be).

fartmeistergeneral Sat 13-Nov-10 09:54:17

Thanks so much for replying. Dehydration might be a factor, he's terrible at drinking water (doesn't drink fizzy at all).

Last night he woke at 12.30am, I was aware of him going to front door and by the time I got there he was sitting on the front step!!! I had to coax him back in the house - he was convinced he was going to be sick. I had to tell him to breathe through nose, out through mouth to calm him down and continue that when I got him back to bed. He was all sweaty, poor thing.

He has a total phobia about being sick and I think he now associates going to bed with waking up and feeling sick and is convinced he's going to throw up so he can't get back to sleep. Aaah!

fartmeistergeneral Sat 13-Nov-10 09:55:52

Should also have said that yesterday (Friday) he managed through all of school, came home at 4pm, I spoke to him for 5 mins, only got one word answers and he fell asleep where he was sitting on the sofa! Not surprising really.

13lucky Sat 13-Nov-10 13:14:32

Bless him (and you!). Insomnia is really horrible...I have suffered with it all through my life. And I also feel sick sometimes...but my feeling sick is because I become so anxious about trying to go back to sleep and the longer I lie there awake, the more worried I become that I'm not going to be able to get to sleep and worry about how tired I will be the next day...and the worry makes me feel sick. Could he be anxious about other things? Agree that a trip to the doctors can't harm. Good luck.

bigdonna Sat 13-Nov-10 14:28:46

Hi not sure if this is any help but my son suffers with anxiety,last yr when he was 12 he couldnt get to sleep he would lie awake for hours worrying and feeling sick!!!His anxiety is due to school, being bullied.Then the dr gave him melatonin which is a natural hormone that makes you tired,he still woke up in the night for a while but learnt to finally go back to sleep.i also have a dd who sleepwalks when worried about something.when you say had he been at your gate did you ask him if he remembered going out my dd never remembers!!!good luck its really hard having a child with sleeping problems no matter what age they are

bigdonna Sat 13-Nov-10 14:30:01

sorry meant to say hes not taking medication now sleeping is much better when hes happy!!!!

deaddei Sat 13-Nov-10 15:33:52

Maybe he could do with some hypnotherapy/CBT.
Might help the phobia.

BreastmilkDoesAFabLatte Sat 13-Nov-10 16:24:57

I went through this when I was about 11... I was really anxious about school, and was being bullied, like donna describes.

I'd suggest you talk to your DS - during the daytime, when he's awake - and ask him whether anything is worrying or upsetting him. Perhaps also remind him of the presence any other adults (aunties, teachers, youth workers) he trusts, and reassure him that it's OK to talk to them if he needs to...

Glitterandglue Sat 13-Nov-10 17:18:25

Might sound like a bit of an odd suggestion, but you could encourage him to phone ChildLine. There may be something that's going on which he doesn't feel comfortable talking to you [or even anyone he knows] for whatever reason, and talking through everything that's happening from the beginning can help sometimes to get a bit of clarity yourself. If he's not a big talker there is also an online chat service at www.childline.org.uk.

Roo83 Sun 14-Nov-10 07:48:56

Have you tried leaving his window open? I'm sure you have,but just thought I'd mention it. My dp is an awful sleeper and he feels very claustrophobic if we have the window shut. Even in the depths of winter he HAS to have fresh air coming in or gets all clammy and anxious

TheProvincialLady Sun 14-Nov-10 07:52:54

Whatever else, I think you MUST enforce the rule that he is not to open any outside doors at night. That could be so dangerous.

I second the suggestions of GP and childline.

MadameSin Sun 14-Nov-10 15:57:50

Fart sorry not had time to read all posts, but sounds very similar to me at around the same age. I used to wake up having mini panic attacks. I used to open my bedroom window to breath in the fresh air. It went on for about a year and I grew out of it around 13. I also used to wake my mum telling her I had a bad dream (I hadn't). I think it's a developmental thing associated with any anxieties he has. He may nor even be aware of them, but it's a child's way of dealing with stress. Be wary of Childline ... you don't want them getting the wrong end of the stick if he is unable to articulate his feelings well.

arionater Sun 14-Nov-10 16:25:01

The panicked sickness does sound like acute anxiety or possibly actual panic attacks. Maybe see the GP and stress this element of it rather than the sleeping per se? It sounds as if he's got very anxious about something - could be that he's not telling you something, or could be that he's genuinely not sure himself what is stressing him (I am quite highly strung and was often like this when I was younger). Like other posters, I also used to say that I had nightmares because I didn't really know how else to describe feeling acutely upset and anxious at night.

Simple relaxation and meditation techniques (e.g. mindfulness) have helped a lot with my problems sleeping and relaxing. Also: plenty of exercise, rigid routine, and making sure that he's getting enough stimulation during the day but that he doesn't work/watch TV etc right up to immediately before bed.

fartmeistergeneral Sun 14-Nov-10 17:23:28

Thanks for all your thoughts.

Am slightly shock at the suggestions of Childline!!! Thought going to the GP was bad enough! Childline?? Really??

I don't think he's anxious about anything specific, but I do know he has a terrible phobia of being sick. I can't help thinking that this is what's behind it all. Last night he slept all the way through, could be a coincidence but he only played 1/2 hr of computer type games (normally gets 1 hr, but later on in the day, when he's home from school, never in the evening) and limited TV too. Also had to make him drink lots of water and ensured he had fruit! Now I feel neurotic!

Going to make sure he does the above and takes more exercise.

I do ask him if anything's bothering him and he did tell me a number of weeks ago that he was being harassed at school, however he seems relieved now and over the last few weeks that this boy has been leaving him alone - talking to him normally ("what have we got next", "French? I'll just follow you then" etc). I really don't think he's getting harassed now but will ask him gently again.

Thanks all, I really appreciate all your suggestions.

TheProvincialLady Sun 14-Nov-10 20:00:46

I thought of childline because they are an anonymous, impartial, trained, free and instant listening ear for children....not because I think that there is something terrible going on. Sorry if I gave that impression. Your son is reaching the age where opening up to you might be too hard for him, or he might be worried you wouldnt understand etc.

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