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11 year old with sleep problems

(8 Posts)
Badgerqueen Fri 12-Dec-14 12:03:33

DD has had sleep problems forever (not good sleeper as a baby, night terrors, difficulty getting to sleep) but things have been a bit better in the last few years. Recently though she has got really bad and can't get to sleep. We changed her bedtime to later and adjusted the routine a bit and things were great for about three weeks. This week though she has been up every night and one night till 4:30. She can't sleep mainly because she is anxious that she can't sleep (argh).

We have told her we aren't cross or worried about her not going to sleep, but she doesn't seem to believe this for herself. She comes down or wakes us wailing and distraught and sometimes looses control and cannot stop herself waking me whatever the time of night. Over the years we have tried reassuring and a cuddle in bed with us, marching her back to bed, being kind/stern/relaxed - but nothing works. It came to a head last night when she started coming down crying only half an hour after going to bed and continued until half 12. So in 48 hours I have had less than 7 hours sleep now.

I have tried so hard to support her, comfort her and dispel the anxiety - but basically it is now a decision she needs to make for herself. She seems to think a cuddle from me will help and demands this whether we are asleep or not - but it doesn't. Sometimes she actually wants me to shout at her!

Clearly she has anxiety around sleep (though she is calm and mature in the rest of her life, she is a sensitive child and was quite highly strung as a little one) and I don't know how to solve this. I am keen not to medicalise this and make her feel she has a problem (which I think taking her to the GP would do)- but we can't really go on like this.

Would CBT help? Hypnosis? We have been anxious in the past (night terrors between 2 and 7 was hard) but we have tried hard not to be with her (she actually didn't really know that she suffered from night terrors). And I am not anxious now, just exhausted!

Does anyone have any experience of this? Help!

elderflowergin Fri 12-Dec-14 16:28:41

I don't really have experience of this but it sounds like this is related more to anxiety than sleep. You could go to the gp for advice without her? Or a surestart children's centre may have family support workers who could help depending on the area. There is a good website which has a lot of good resources for anxiety, and relaxation techniques, I don't know how to do a link but if you google my mind camhs you should find it if the link doesn't work.

pandora987 Fri 12-Dec-14 20:20:25

Until really recently my DD (11) needed me to sleep with her so she would go to sleep. Even got her a double bed to facilitate this ... I know its not ideal, but would that help? She has just grown out of it having started secondary school and is now fine, but for a long time I thought it would continue for ever. But at least we all got some sleep! And I got good sleep because she didn't snore like DH! DD was very anxious about other things, but this really did help.

chicaguapa Fri 12-Dec-14 20:36:31

This sounds like DD(13). She has been like it from birth too.

I asked the GP for a referral to a sleep clinic and the initial assessment came through pretty quickly. She was put on the waiting list for a child psychologist (to deal with the anxiety) and has just come to the top, 6 months later, with the first appointment next month.

The final straw for me was that teenagers are supposed to sleep loads and I was worried that DD was missing out on important developmental sleep. I have since been told that it's the first couple of hours that are necessary and the rest just contributes to feeling refreshed (still important but not vital for development).

Tbf she has been a lot better since going for the assessment so I don't think taking her to the GP made things worse. I had the same concerns because DD worries a lot too but I had run out of ideas and didn't want her to carry this with her all through adolescence. So decided to take a chance.

Badgerqueen Sat 13-Dec-14 16:55:19

Aah, I really don't want anxiety to be the issue, but I guess it is and she/we needs to learn to manage it. It's gauging whether this is within the realms of normal and what we can do to help. In much of life she is more earnest than anxious, but there are a few things she is panic-y about.

I can't sleep with her as we don't have the space for a larger bed and also I have never managed to sleep with her (regrettably even when she was small) - she and I seem not to be compatible bed companions - probably my desire for peace in bed.

Difficult to sort over Christmas holidays - sleep hygiene hard to maintain while we are away and things are busy and exciting. Have found an app that was pretty fab last night (though she may just be exhausted) but who knows how long it will last?

chicguapa - did you go to see GP alone or with DD? I will start reading about handling anxiety and I think we are going to look at meditation and exercise too. I suspect that an assessment or talking to someone that is not us will help, actually. There are a few signs that pre-teen/teen sleep changes are happening in that she more often now sleeps later if tired, where as previously she would be awake at 6:30 whatever had happened in the night

I am concerned that the lack of sleep is not good for her growing brain (it is certainly not good for mine - I walked into a tree today) - but we are so busy saying that it's fine (so as not to make her more anxious) that I have parked that!

stargirl1701 Sat 13-Dec-14 16:59:34

Mindfulness is a great way to deal with anxiety. Ideas here:

cece Sat 13-Dec-14 17:17:31

We had similar problems with DS1. Eventually we got a hospital appointment for him. He has been diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 10. That is why he finds it hard to sleep. Funnily enough though the hysterically wailing has stopped since he found out, as has the anxiety. He actually has a really good sleep routine now and most nights gets enough sleep for him. Occasional nights he is up at am pacing the house but he doesn't wake us now and can either watch TV calmly/read his book/go back to sleep. Basically now he knows why he can't sleep he can actually sleep!

chicaguapa Sat 13-Dec-14 18:20:10

DD has some ASD traits and poor sleeping is one of them. Only mentioning because a PP mentioned ADHD.

I took DD to the GP with me. She wasn't overly worried about it tbh. She gets worked up about not being able to sleep so I suppose she was pleased we were taking her seriously and could see that we didn't think she was just messing about. It definitely hasn't added to the anxiety.

I was worried about the brain development but as long as they get a couple of hours sleep a night, they'll be ok.

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