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My 8 year old seems to have insomnia

(28 Posts)
hippospot Wed 07-Oct-15 09:14:52

Can anyone advise, please.

Eight year old DD, happy, healthy, bright, since the start of term has been staying awake till 10.30pm most nights, despite having a lovely calm slow bedtime routine (since forever). It coincides with going back to school (and there is now more homework). I think she just has a lot on her mind, and I hope that "this too shall pass" but in the meantime it just feels so wrong for her to be getting only 9 hours' sleep.

She is hard to wake and relatively grumpy in the morning (I wake her at 7.30am). Her behaviour is otherwise normal, and she simply says that she doesn't feel sleepy till then. She is going to bed at the same time as me! She's in her pyjamas from about 9pm, she is read to and then has the freedom to read to herself until she feels sleepy.

She does sport four times a week, walks two miles on school days, has a good diet, and apart from going back to school, nothing else has changed in her life. She seems to like her teacher and has nice friends. She doesn't appear anxious about anything except perhaps slightly bothered by the increased homework (though the work is not particularly difficult for her).

Surely she needs more sleep though???

BlueChampagne Wed 07-Oct-15 13:18:12

I would expect them to be having more sleep at 8yo. 9pm was a rare treat when I was that age! I stop reading to 8yo DS1 at 8pm, and he has lights out at 8.15 (8.30 at the latest) in term time, though he is woken between 7 and 7.15am. He went through a phase of having trouble getting to sleep, but being back at school seems to have sorted that out!

She's obviously reading something really gripping! Might be worth trying to set a lights out time?

hippospot Wed 07-Oct-15 13:51:18

We have lights out at 9.30pm, but then she lies awake tossing and turning for at least another 30-60 minutes! It doesn't seem feasible that she's getting enough sleep at all, but I'm at a loss as to how to make her sleepier at bedtime.

Maybe she needs a more boring book!

hippospot Wed 07-Oct-15 14:19:38

Thanks for your reply though, BlueChampagne

Anyone else?

lavendersun Wed 07-Oct-15 14:27:24

Hippospot, DD (9) has never gone to sleep early, ever. I like her to be in bed by 9 but she is often awake at 10 and even later. I too wake her at 7:30.

No answer really but short of hitting her on the head with something heavy I am not sure that there is much you can do.

Last night for instance, in bed at 9 and when DH & I went to bed at 10:30 she started chatting to us, wide awake, not a remote chance of sleep.

She is fine though, more energy than me generally.

yakari Wed 07-Oct-15 14:29:28

DS now 9 has always been a bad sleeper so some of this may not be relevant if its a new thing for your DD.
He really struggles to switch off and in fact over exhaustion can make it worse - so on a night where I think he should just collapse due to a full on day and sports, can often be the time he struggles more. Could be 9.30 is too late as a starting point - can that be earlier but with reading in bed? We do 8pm with lights out by 8.30.
He also gets into a habit and then can't break it, so if he's had a few nights not getting to sleep, it just gets worse. I suspect he starts to 'panic' about not being able to sleep.
All the things about environment from when they were babies still apply - is the room dark, too warm/too cold (and remember by this age they know their own preferences!)
The best thing I've found is an app on meditation called Relax+ from a guy called Andrew Johnson. If he gets into a flow of not sleeping we use the app to break the cycle. DS really likes them, and I've used them myself and never managed to stay awake! BUT you need to know she'll not start to play with the ipad/ipod its on - DS knows thats a crime with a penalty of no screens for at least a week so never dares risk it!

Iwantakitchen Wed 07-Oct-15 14:59:51

It doesn't sound right to me. I know that if I'd let DSs (8 and 9) have the freedom to read until they feel sleepy they would both carry on until 9. I'[m afraid my suggestion is to discuss an earlier cut off time, pj at 8, read until 8.30, lights out. Then stay with her for a few minutes for a cuddle and go back in her room every 15 minutes until she fall asleep. It might be difficult the first few nights bug she should get into a better routine naturally.

hippospot Wed 07-Oct-15 17:19:37

Thanks everyone.

I think I will move bedtime earlier, to see if it helps.

I am also going to tell her to read an old favourite book that she knows by heart to help her switch off, as I wonder if reading new books that are gripping is keeping her awake.

I'll keep you posted smile

Orangeanddemons Wed 07-Oct-15 17:26:14

My dd is like this. At 8 she used to fall asleep about 9:15. At 9 it's nearer 10 ON A GOOD DAY. Quite often she is wide awake when we go to bed. She has always been like this. It can be difficult to wake her on a school day.

However, she seems very much to be an owl type person, as is dh. She has never ever woken up before about 7: 30 even as a baby and toddler, and often used to sleep until about 9 am at that time

lavendersun Wed 07-Oct-15 17:39:06

Same here Orange - definitely an owl and I remember my sister being exactly the same, she is still the same in her 50s.

Orangeanddemons Wed 07-Oct-15 17:42:22

It's an inherited gene so you'll have to blame your sister for never having an evening. I read threads on here about parents of teenagers complaining about not having any evening time. Neither do I, and mine is only 9 sad

lavendersun Wed 07-Oct-15 17:48:07

We rarely have an evening to ourselves Orange grin, 9 too here.

hippospot Thu 08-Oct-15 08:28:49

Thanks everyone.

Last night I brought bedtime forward by 20 mins, and made her choose a familiar relaxing book to read instead of a gripping new one. She was still awake till 10.20pm!

I will persist for a few days to see if it makes a difference though.

lavendersun Thu 08-Oct-15 08:48:56

We tried all sorts hippo, before we realised it was just her!

She goes to bed with a lava lamp on a timer and Celtic Dreamland playing on her iPod speaker generally so soft light, lights off at 9pm and lovely music ..... no difference whatsoever from when we allowed her to read until she wanted to.

We are really active as a family too - dragged her out for a 20 odd mile bike ride on Sunday, always walk the dog in the forest for an hour after school if it is a free evening.

Nothing changes it, when she got to 7 I decided that if she could get up in the morning, was happy, healthy and energetic I would just deal with it!

Littleloony Thu 08-Oct-15 09:20:08

I'm having this with my 10 year old at the moment. Tricks I've tried that have worked (maybe just placebo though) ovaltine at bedtime (the one made with milk) definitely helps, and if that fails we have a rescue remedy night spray, which is ok for children to use.

And a regular 8.30 bedtime, even if not tired.

Worth a try maybe x

Orangeanddemons Thu 08-Oct-15 09:33:32

Same here Lavender. We tried Everything. It didn't make any difference. Sometimes in desperation, I'd stroke her nose to make her fall asleep, at an earlier time. Then she'd fucking wake up 10 minutes later! Then go to sleep again at her normal 10-10:30.

She's seems bright enough, happy and bouncy. At the weekend she falls asleep about 10:30 and wakes up at 8. So asleep at 10 and up at 7:30 isn't any difference on a week day.

Shy was a child who stopped napping at 20 monthssad

lavendersun Thu 08-Oct-15 10:20:35

Snap Orange, and she never, ever, ever slept in the car. Even when we moved back to England after living overseas, she was just 2 and looked out of the window al the way home from Heathrow! I was knackered, she was fine!

hippospot Thu 08-Oct-15 13:42:51

Lavendersun I appreciate it could be just her. But it started so recently!

I'm blaming the new school year, extra homework, even the fact that DH has been away lots recently with work...

This morning she was spectacularly grumpy, worse than ever. She only had 8.5 hours of sleep last night sad

ChocolateJam Thu 08-Oct-15 16:28:50

Chamomile tea helped my DD a bit when she was going through a patch of finding it difficult to fall asleep.

lavendersun Thu 08-Oct-15 16:54:51

We have some sort of herbal tea together at about 8 ish chocolate, keeps me off the gin grin.

ChocolateJam Thu 08-Oct-15 18:44:00

smile @ Lavendersun

Melatonin also helped but you need a script for that.

hippospot Fri 09-Oct-15 12:07:35

Last night slight improvement smile

I made bedtime even earlier, and when she said she couldn't sleep I said, try for 10 more minutes, whereas previously I'd have said she could go and read for a bit in another room (she shares with her brother and he was already asleep so I didn't want her to put the light on).

NellyTheElephant Sat 10-Oct-15 20:59:29

My DD1 (now 10) was the most perfect sleeper ever as a baby / toddler, 7pm to 7am from about 2 months until she was about 5 and a half. Then bed time started creeping later and later. We kept the routine the same - bath and reading to her, into bed by 7pm but she simply took ages to go to sleep. It was awful for a couple of years as she was constantly up and down stairs, but then she learnt to read and life became normal again as she was happy to stay upstairs in bed reading. Her lights out time has been 9pm since she was aged 8, but she's almost never asleep before 10pm / 10.30pm (and is an inveterate reader under the covers with torch - it's hard to catch her as she hears me coming). I used to tear my hair out and despair over it, worrying she wasn't getting enough sleep but now I just accept she is what she is. A few years on at 10 she's still usually in her bedroom ready for bed at 8pm, but might then finish some homework at her desk, or just read. Her lights are notionally out at 9.30pm (but she doesn't sleep). I think, well at least she's resting and in bed, and it's not such a bad thing to be a bookworm.

DD2 is 8, she is also usually in bed by 8pm (what with my working hours I pick up from after school care at 6pm, so the days of 7pm bedtimes are no longer possible). DD2's lights out time is 9pm, and she usually drops off pretty quickly at that time.

DS is 6, he's in bed at 8pm and asleep by 8.01.

Alarms are set for 6.45am for music practice before breakfast. On the weekends DD1 is rarely up before 8.30 so I guess she must get tired but she still can't get to sleep any earlier during the week.

lavendersun Sun 11-Oct-15 07:37:34

I thought of this thread when I went to bed at 10:45 last night. "Mum, what have you been doing all this time, I have been in bed ages". "Mum, I have decided what I am going to do my homework on", yes dear, go to sleep "Mum, do we get to keep that book on my iPad forever", it just goes on and on.

Dachshund Sun 11-Oct-15 07:45:29

Just as a little bit of another view here, I have never slept longer than 6 hours a night unless exhausted after a day of rigorous activity. My parents did everything by the book and I was too scared (goody two shoes) to get up in the night for a book and the lamp on so I spent years lying wide awake looking at the ceiling.

In my teenage years this went to 4/5 hours and I slept the most when I was at uni but that was generally booze related and also rarely more than 9 hours.

I just don't need as much sleep as some others! It's not negatively affected me as a person smile

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