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HELP! 8-year-old DS's anxiety stopping him falling asleep

(9 Posts)
juneau Sun 03-Jul-16 22:38:43

I'm really struggling to deal with this, because DS1 has always been a good sleeper, but since a bout of illness in the spring he's started to have problems falling asleep and we're now in the situation where he's anxious as bedtime approaches and then he cannot fall asleep. He's just come wandering downstairs at 10.15pm, having been in bed, trying to go to sleep since 8.45pm.

Nothing we've tried seems to help - he has a relaxing routine (bath, story, reading to himself, light out usually by 8.30pm), he has some Rescue Remedy sleep spray (which seems to do nothing), and Rescue Remedy pastilles (ditto). We've tried counting sheep, visualising a relaxing, happy scene, talking him through relaxing his body for sleep, talking through his worries with him, and giving his worries to a toy.

What are his worries? Wetting the bed. He last wet the bed about two years ago, so this is irrational and we've told him it doesn't matter even if he did wet the bed, yet he can't stop going back and forth to the bathroom fifty times. I've tried reasoning with him - it doesn't work. And then, of course, there is the worry that he won't fall asleep - which he then doesn't, and between the getting up and down to go the loo, worrying, crying, hyperventilating, he's about as far from relaxed and ready for sleep as its possible to be!

Please, if anyone has been through this, can you help? DH and I are on the verge of asking for him to be referred to a child psychologist, because we're both at the end of our tether and out of ideas.

treaclesoda Sun 03-Jul-16 22:41:05

My ten year old has terrible anxiety problems and has difficulty falling asleep.

We have had great success with downloading relaxation exercises, you can get some specifically aimed at children.

flowers, it is very very difficult.

Duckstar Sun 03-Jul-16 22:42:48

I would go to the GP. I was a very anxious child and it's only as an adult I have had CBT. I think earlier intervention would have been far better. I get cross thinking what an anxious child i was and it was just brushed off. A child psychologist will be able to give you techniques based on cbt to help your child.

Laus13 Sun 03-Jul-16 22:45:05

Sorry to hear what you're going through & im not sure what advice I can give.
I was an anxious child around 9 years old. My worries were getting lost, to the point of refuse to do fun things anywhere just in case. And not falling asleep.
I think what you've done by talking it through with him about what the 'end point' of his worries are is perfect.
Maybe this will help if you repeat this thought process with him at night and get him to talk
It through himself.
I know he's only a year or so younger than I was when I was anxious, so maybe it will take him a little while to get it, but ultimately, he will. Once I realised the only end point of not sleeping was being tired, it was like a light switch!
Also, remembering my day from start to finish always helped me drift off.
Good luck!

juneau Mon 04-Jul-16 09:58:05

I will keep talking to him - discussing the 'end point' is something we've done, but merely reminding him how tired he'll be tomorrow if he doesn't sleep just seems to make him more anxious! I'm seeing the GP tomorrow about something unrelated so I'll ring and see if I can get a double appt and discuss it with him then. Thanks for your ideas.

Cornberry Fri 08-Jul-16 10:18:50

hello, I'm so sorry to hear about this. I suffer badly with anxiety and I want to reassure you that it will certainly get better with time if it's due to a trauma related to illness. My best advice would be to try and avoid making an issue of it. Try to avoid using the word anxiety or the word anxious. Try and make your son feel like sometimes it's harder to get to sleep, it happens to all of us and it will get better. Do not show him that you are desperate or worried, and in the meantime do what you can to distract him. The problem with anxiety is that it's self perpetuating and it spirals so the key is to keep him occupied and not let him lie in bed worrying about not sleeping. I think let him watch a film and keep him distracted until he seems really tired and wants to sleep. Avoid too much pressure on the "you need to sleep at this time" thing. His worry about being ill should fade but be aware that anxiety can be a lifelong problem and it needs to be managed well by you to avoid it getting worse and spreading to other aspects of life. So don't make him feel as though he's anxious, rather he was ill and he's still getting over it and emphasize that it's not a big deal and it will pass. I hope this is helpful.

Diddlydokey Fri 08-Jul-16 10:22:59

When I struggle to sleep, I think of a fruit that begins with each letter of the alphabet and really stick to the task at hand. It stops my mind whirring and I generally fall asleep before I've got to M. Maybe try that?

Obviously you would want to tackle the root cause but in the meantime it is a coping mechanism.

Haworthiia Tue 12-Jul-16 21:07:26

Wetting the bed may not be the primary anxiety. At 12 I had a traumatic family event (basically our father tried to have us taken away from our mother) and I had what, in retrospect, was a bit of a breakdown. It manifested in several ways but one was being convinced I was going to wet myself and this running to the loo constantly. I couldn't explain my real anxiety to anyone so I suppose this was a somatisation of a psychological fear.
Could you prove a little deeper with him? Is he ok at school? Worried about something else? Has anything happened to him?
Like a pp I was an anxious child and it was brushed off. It's left me with anxiety issues as an adult.
I think he may need strategies to cope with anxiety in general.

Regarding sleep - the more you worry the worse it is. Tell him to think 'it's ok. I don't have to sleep. I'm just lying and resting.' That seems to help me!

Good luck - poor little guy flowers

BiscuitMillionaire Tue 12-Jul-16 21:12:28

My children like this relaxation/visualization/hypnosis CD. It tells a story.
the Lake

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