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8 year old DS won't sleep - at breaking point

(18 Posts)
WonderOnTheUp Wed 18-Nov-15 21:48:15

Hello, I posted in another topic about issues with my ds, sleep being one of the big ones, a kind poster suggested posting in this area for some advice.

DS has never been a good sleeper since birth but did improve by age 2 and would settle about 7pm and sleep all night. Since the age of about 3-4 (I'm too sleep deprived to remember exactly!) he took longer and longer to settle to sleep. We are now at a stage where he can still be awake at midnight. Most nights he's awake past 11pm and on a rare occasion (maybe once in 2 months) he's asleep by 10pm. His bed time is 8pm and he is usually able to read for half hour or so before lights out. Once lights go out we get the following:
Wandering out of bed to toilet/drink/hungry etc. I don't give anything here as he has supper and a drink of milk before bed.
Lights get turned on and off, stressing again, getting things out of cupboards, talking to himself, jumping on the bed etc.

I go in to resettle him but I'm finding it so frustrating and sometimes I shout which I know isn't really going to help.

Things we have tried so far are:
No sugary food or drinks from afternoon onwards
No screen time in the evening (he gets an hour on Xbox after school)
Sitting with him while he tries to sleep (I usually ends up falling asleep first!)
Sitting outside room so he stops messing about (this doesn't often work)
Going to bed the same time so I can hear if he starts playing about and intervene
There have been other things but can't think straight right now.

Other things I should probably mention is I had pnd and struggled to bond, had another depressive episode last year. DH works away so there is and has been some distribution in his life.

I'm not coping or handling the situation well. It's impacting on school and his general behaviour ad he's so tired and difficult to rouse in the mornings. It also means I rarely go anywhere in an evening as not fair to leave a babysitter to look after him as he will never settle and sleep then.

I'm tired, I'm tired of him not sleeping, I'm tired of trying to reason with him and I'm tired of losing my patience and shouting at him. I don't know what to do. I asked the doctor and then gave me an advice sheet but it's aimed at babies and toddlers rather than older children.

Hoping that some wise mums netters may have some experience and advice that may save my sanity?!

Sorry that was so long!

LizzieLou3 Sat 21-Nov-15 19:48:01

Hi Wonder. It sounds like you're having an awful time. My 10 year old struggles to settle at night and did from quite young. We made clear our expectations and confiscated toys the following day if she messed about. For her this was the worst punishment. But we did it from the start really so it might be difficult for you to go all out with this at once. I did try sitting with her sometimes but this always proved a distraction and prolonged her dropping off.

LizzieLou3 Sat 21-Nov-15 19:50:26

Oh. Is he getting enough physical exercise? Daily exercise is also vital for sleep

Fairylea Sat 21-Nov-15 19:59:21

Going for a different approach but since nothing is working could you just leave him to it? Make the room as boring as possible and say he can stay up as long as he likes but he must be quiet and he cannot disturb you otherwise there will be consequences (loss of gadgets or toys or whatever else, at 8 I think he's old enough to understand). I do think some children just aren't tired until late at night... I was one of them. I don't think I ever fell asleep before 11pm until I was 34 blush but I can understand the tiredness for school is a big problem.

How is the rest of his behaviour and how is he doing at school (apart from being very tired)?

MarlenaGru Sat 21-Nov-15 21:03:12

The only way I got my seven year old to stop being a little shit in the evenings was to tell her how it made me a much worse mummy when tired. I also used a reward chart at the same time. iPad removal is the worst threat...

She does sometimes mess about but she gets no interaction from bed time until morning. Luckily she rarely needs the toilet, but she has a bottle of water in her room and the lights are off. If she disturbs us she gets a very swift telling off.

R0nJ0n Sat 21-Nov-15 21:15:16

I have an almost eight year old who is often awake after I've gone to bed. She doesn't seem to suffer from tiredness in the daytime, and seeing as I can't force her to sleep I just leave her to it.

We do have rules though, once she's in her room she has to stay in her room unless she needs the toilet or feels ill. She's not allowed to do anything noisy, she can read or play quietly, she often draws or writes little stories, and absolutely no screens in the bedroom ever.

Could you come to a compromise like this with your son? Tell him he doesn't have to go to sleep or have lights out at a particular time, but that he has to stay in his room and be respectful of you needing adult time or even sleep.

Redcrayons Sat 21-Nov-15 21:21:25

Sounds like one of mine. I just leave him to it. He isn't allowed to come downstairs or make noise to disturb his brother. Other than that he can do what he likes. All lights are off when I go to bed (11ish). He usually falls sleep listening to the radio.

Can't you just leave him to it?

GotABitTricky Fri 27-Nov-15 14:48:40

OP Wonder seems to be doing things right:

> "bed time is 8pm and he is usually able to read for half hour or so before lights out"
> "no snacks after lights out"
> "No screen time in the evening"

I was at doctors today with 11 year olds similar sleep problems, and the limited hour on Xbox after school was way to go per GP.
Exercise though doctor said should not be over stimulating. I was surprised at that advice, but on reflection now he takes even longer to get to sleep after being out at football training in the evenings.

Was advised no calpol or any medicine, as kid would come to rely on it, and stress about it if not got one night. Also advised to encourage kid to put light on himself after 30 mins and to read for 10 minutes, then try again. Told to go in every 10 minutes and then every 20 mins to check on them, and hope they nod off between checks.

Just passing on doctors advice, and wish you all luck tonight.

whatdoIget Fri 27-Nov-15 14:59:53

If you've found it difficult to bond, are you giving him enough attention during the day for positive stuff? He might just be desperate for something from you and he finds he can get attention by staying awake? If he feels insecure he'll find it harder to sleep too. It's really hard to change though, especially when you must be so tired and without much support from your Dh.

WonderOnTheUp Sat 28-Nov-15 13:44:15

Thank you for the replies and apologies in the delayed response.

I have tried the leaving him to it approach but unfortunately that meant he was still awake and messing around past 1am and pretty vile the next day when I woke him for school. It doesn't knock on to the next night and he's still awake late the next day.

He is active and has exercise each day but interesting that too much stimulating exercise later in the day can have an adverse effect on sleep. His football training is in the eenung so I will see if those days are particularly worse.

I am tempted to put him in the spare room to sleep as there will be no distractions in there.

His behaviour in general I find a challenge but dh says he's just a child and thinks my expectations are too high. I find him rude and answers back a lot, he's also argumentative with me. I could cope with this if he at least knew how to behave when out and about but it's more of the same. His school say he lacks concentration and needs to focus more. When he's with his friends his behaviour is even worse. When I correct this DH says I'm too strict sad I don't want to be strict but I don't want him to behave.

GotabitTricky - I will try the approach your doctor suggested about putting light back on etc - thank you for sharing this.

WhatDoIGet - I do feel that he's lacked attention from me in the past, each day we are trying to do something together, a film or board game etc but he seems to prefer doing things without me. I'm hoping that the more we do it the more he will enjoy spending time with me. I am trying positive praise for all things he does well, no matter how small and trying to let the little things go but I admit I find this a challenge. Today he's had swimming and he asked if we can go out for lunch so we are off out now and he's picked a film to watch together tonight. DH is home this weekend which seems to cheer him up but also brings out the rudeness in him a bit more.

Thanks again for posting x

CakeMountain Sat 28-Nov-15 19:02:44

We have a nine year old and hell would freeze over before I found myself waiting outside a bedroom door for him to go to sleep.

I am sure he is reacting to the tension between you and your husband. I agree with you - trust your judgement - it sounds like he is pushing boundaries by playing up and being rude, and as though he needs more strictness and consequences.

THEN - when you have got that in place you can try to consider your relationship and whether you spend enough time with him, empathasise with him etc.

I would agree rules with your DH and stick to them. Bed at x O'CLOCK, no getting out of bed etc. Loses screen time/trets etc if he does. It will take a while but if you can be consistent for a week or so I think you would see improvement.

RandomMess Sat 28-Nov-15 19:15:40

It is possible that he has either

1. Abnormally high adrenalin levels (dd3 had this and she so struggled to get to sleep - it's linked to having a retained moro reflex)

2. Low melatonin levels - the hormone we produce to help us go to sleep.

Wolpertinger Sat 28-Nov-15 19:22:20

What strikes me from your post overwhelmingly is

1: You still feel terribly guilty about having PND 8 years ago although you clearly love him very much

2: You and your DH are not parenting as a team

Although sleep is clearly a big flash point, you have problems all day (and he has problems at school) but you and your DH do not have a united approach.

I don't have a solution for you but until you can leave your memories of the early days behind, and work unitedly with your DH, your DS will continue to run rings round the pair of you. (I believe you that he is a problem and 'not just a kid' as your DH says BTW as clearly school have said there are issues too)

MissSmiley Sat 28-Nov-15 19:23:55

Have you tried love bombing?
How about taking him into your bed? One of my eight year old twins sleeps with me every night.
Sorry can't offer any more suggestions but it does sound like he needs you to be with him.

spaceyboo Sat 28-Nov-15 19:26:44

I have similar issues with sleep -Exercise helps. The more strenuous the better!

CakeMountain Sat 28-Nov-15 20:45:09

What does the school nurse say? Is there other help you can get?

It's difficult, because like I said above, I feel you need to get the sleep sorted to give you enough head space to sort out the bigger problem. However, thinking about it, until you sort out the psychological stuff, he will struggle to sleep. Could you get some professional help?

So you think your husband feels guilty about being away all week and tries to be over-nice to your son when he is home? It's hard for a man working away as they don't want to discipline when they come home ... but they really have to (especially with a boy who needs that male figure).

CakeMountain Sat 28-Nov-15 20:45:55

* do you think, not so you think

CakeMountain Sat 28-Nov-15 20:47:05

... and yes, if you only have the one child (difficult sometimes if you have more than one) love bombing as MissSmiley says.

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