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I need some sleep : ( how can i get son to sleep and stay to sleep?

(23 Posts)
mrshess Wed 15-Jun-11 13:25:59

We have had major issues with son 4 1/2 not sleeping through the night for all his life and i have no energy to do anything at the minute.
Brief quick history suspected asperegrs although passed ADOS test but is very obsessive and has traits says paeditrician. He also has very challenging behaviour

Son refuses to go to bed as he says he is scared of shadows. When i finally get him to sleep he wakes constantly all night screaming about shadows or other things which upset him
at the minute its why are dinosaurs extinct? which he will cry about

He cries most of the night and swops beds most of the night, i have tried him in our bed but he still wakes screaming about he is afraid or he is hot/cold.

So far we have seen sleep psychologist who told us to leave him to cry
This does nothing as he will cry and cry and also he scratches at himself in anger and often cuts himself if i dont go in to him.

We have tried melatonin this only got him to sleep and didnt keep him asleep.

We have a routine for bed but he just doesnt seem tired at all when he goes down and he has on occasion stayed awake for 24 hours because he refused to sleep.

I dont know what to do anymore other than i cant go on like this.

We have been firm with him but he still wakes and sometimes he isnt really with it and so talking to him doesnt help.

We have used star charts but nothing keeps him asleep.

A year ago we went to drs to ask about sleep eeg to see what happens when he goes to sleep but we was fobbed off

What can we do as this daily battle has got the better of me and i would love any ideas what to do

chocjunkie Wed 15-Jun-11 13:36:39

(((hug))) this sounds exhausting. DD (3) is not a great sleeper either. can take a while for her to fall asleep. also, we have to be with her as she won't fall asleep on her own. paed suggested to let her cry it out but it didn't work. she just keeps on crying then. so we stopped this pretty quickly.

she also wakes up at night. we have the occasional rough patches where she wakes up all the time - very often crying and screaming. when things were really bad, we co-slept with her and this helped her to sleep better...

have also been to an osteopath (sp?) a while ago after it had been recommended to me by a friend and I have to say it really helped us. DD goes to sleep easier/quicker and waking crying/screaming has been much reduced. don't know if this is just coincidence.

also, we don't allow naps - if DD has a nap we won't get sleep at night.

Chundle Wed 15-Jun-11 13:39:35

What about a weighted blanket? Weighted products worked well for my dd she's a horrific sleeper - we also just got a bubble lamp (from family fund) and the buzz of that seems to send her off instantly and keep her asleep could you try something similar some background noise? Like a radio?
I sympathise I love my sleep and dd2 has ruined any chance of me ever sleeping past 4.30am again!

blueShark Wed 15-Jun-11 13:39:56

DS also had sleep issues until he was 3 and a half and the cry it out method didnt work as he was ready to do so for hours which wasnt pleasant for him and my ears. What worked for us was gradual retreat (if that is what was called), but pls note he was used to co sleep with an adult as I was tired of not getting of 2-3h sleep at a time and with someone next to him this stretched to 4-5h.
1. Swap sleeping next to him to sitting by him until he fell asleep. Did this for a week or so
2. Get a chair and sit next to the bed on the chair for another week or so. Please note you dont talk to him while sitting nearby, you are just there to reassure him whatever he is scared from is not going to get to him. Ignore all questions and statement and stick to 'its time to sleep now'. Dont treaten you live the room if he doesnt fall asleep as you may have to deal with a big tantrum
3. Move the chair from the bed towards the door slowly; works better in a small room, I struggled for a week in a big double room
4. Never move the chair closer to his bed regardless how many tears, shoutings you experience
5. The trickiest part is leave the room which took me another week

So hard work for about a month gave me a sound night sleep I treasure for over a year now. And he now sleeps min 10h, on good nights 11-12h. And I thought I could never have the text book baby/child sleeping for that long in one stretch.

PS Sorry for the typos...had rough night sleep due to DH snoring, I suppose you train the kids but something else pops up so one never wins smile

mrshess Wed 15-Jun-11 13:49:57

Thank you for all the suggestions : )
chocjunkie what is a osteopath?
chundle we have ben told about weighted blankets can you reccommed one as they are expensive and id hate to buy the wrong one
blueshark we have tried the gradual retreat which does work to get him to sleep but im unsure what to do when he wakes in the night do i just sit in the room again?

chocjunkie Wed 15-Jun-11 14:08:42

can't really explain it myself. we used an cranial osteopath. have a look here - it explains it a bit more.

we had 3 sessions and a session was £40. not cheap but not that expensive either and for us if was money well spent.


ohmeohmy Wed 15-Jun-11 14:17:50

finding that bath with epsom salts is helping ds sleep better

mrshess Wed 15-Jun-11 14:25:38

what do people think about me letting son watch a dvd if he wakes up as he can work a portable dvd player himself as long as he is quiet?
Am i setting myself up for a fall, im worried he will become obsessive with it at bedtime and expect every night and wake up to watch.

smileANDwave2000 Wed 15-Jun-11 16:31:21

you dont mention all the things youve tried so sorry if im saying things youve already done,
a weighted blanket as soft as poss but it can just be an extra winter duvet on top as thats lovely and soft too and cheaper
my ds likes a extra sheet over his head as he doesnt like seeing out but a blanket makes him sweat
he also gets uncomfortable if hes hot so a fan and no pj top
he has a dimmer switch as he used to like the light on so we had to gradually decrease it he didnt like a nightlight as not bright enough
some people buy blackout blinds
a soft cuddly toy or a top of mummies as my dh likes this cos it smeels like mums still there
not too much juice before bed
a bedtime routine of book cuddle light out
important to note there are two types of melatonin one that helps dcs get to sleep and a slow release supposed to be more effective at keeping dcs asleep so may be worth asking about

IndigoBell Wed 15-Jun-11 16:36:07

I can 2nd Epsom Bath Salts and Cranial Osteopath......

LeninGrad Wed 15-Jun-11 16:49:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blueShark Wed 15-Jun-11 21:32:51

mrshess - sorry forgot to add that bit - when he wakes up during the night you do the same step and chair is at the same spot as when he fell asleep.

bdaonion Wed 15-Jun-11 23:46:42

I'm another one who has had success with the Epsom Salts. Helps DD to fall asleep quicker and seems to keep her asleep instead of wandering through to us in the middle of the night.

Sleep deprivation is the worst so I hope you can find a solution that works for you soon.

Chundle Thu 16-Jun-11 08:41:27

Hi we borrowed one from our OT it goes by the weight of your child. As my dd is only young we lay ankle and wrist weights over her as well (the ones you get in sports shops) perhaps you could try these as a cheap alternative to see if they work first put them on him at night and see if it has an effect. There are also websites for making your own weighted blankets and I know eBay sometimes has cheap secondhand ones.
Or what about funding through a charity (family fund?) for one? Good luck

swanriver Thu 16-Jun-11 11:31:59

Could some of his challenging behaviour be because he is so tired?
If you read Ferber's book on How To Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, he mentions that in night terrors child appears to be awake but it is best not to comfort them, because that wakes them up when they are still to all intents and purpose, asleep (although shouting and screaming)
Could you change the whole bedtime routine so that you go to sleep with him in your bed (safe place), read bedtime story, and are there all night, so he knows nothing can happen. Just get him used to staying in one place, and not wandering round house. When he's got into better sleep habits, you might be able to transfer him back to his own room.
We co-slept with our bad sleeper for much of his toddlerhood. He did go to bed in his own bed (very regular 7.30 pm bath story bed) but generally came into our bed in the night. We didn't mind, he slept peacefully.
As he got older, we found he was fidgeting when he woke at 6.30, so we changed the routine so that he had to go back to his own room when he fidgeted, until proper wake up time at 7am, then he got used to playing his room at wakeup and not disturbing us, and then finally this progressed to him not coming into our bed at all. It does get better, but I think with a child who is naturally a light sleeper you have to re-inforce every habit going, you have to help them by providing a very firm framework. In our case this meant very strict bedtime, and very clear morning routine - get up, Dad gives you breakfast (no telly) and plays trains etc. Late telly and morning telly have ALWAYS for our sins, made his sleep worse and more erratic.
DVDs will make problem worse, imo.

Also lots of exercise in day helped a lot.

swanriver Thu 16-Jun-11 11:40:51

I think when children are overtired, they often don't display tiredness as we might think (yawning, lying down, slowing down) they often speed up, become hyper, violent, overexcited. And often the more tired you are, the less well you sleep because your brain is processing so much. I can remember my dd aged 3 having a screaming tantrum at 4pm in the afternoon once, and finally I was so desperate I put her in her room, whereupon she felt asleep shock till the next morning. Yet I never in a million years would have thought that tiredness was the cause of her tantrum. (This was several years ago, but it has stayed with me)

mrshess Thu 16-Jun-11 13:49:50

Thanks for all replies,
swanriver yes we think his behaviour is down to him being so tired.
After another night of screaming and bedswopping i dont know whether to let him stay up later until i go to bed and go to bed with him. (he isnt going to sleep before i come to bed anyway, he is wandering about and im up and down the stairs)

To everyone who reccommended epsom salts can i use if son has excema?

smileANDwave2000 Thu 16-Jun-11 13:56:56

oooh i wouldnt as i used to be like that as a child myself and they used to make me itch like crazy ... having said that im old lol they may have one for sensitive skin or a dermatology version by now , shame cos the epsom salts help relax my ds we only use it at weekends tho not too often

swanriver Thu 16-Jun-11 14:25:34

what I was suggesting is that you lie down at his bedtime with him to get him to go to sleep rather than continuing to struggle at this stage. He doesn't know what time your bedtime is. Bring it forward for his sake, until he gets over his sleep debt.

IndigoBell Thu 16-Jun-11 14:28:29

I don't think you can use epsom bath salts if your son has excema, but there is a version you mix into a drink which you could use.... (No idea if it is as good)

bdaonion Thu 16-Jun-11 14:59:03

I think you can. My step-daughter has very bas eczema and she uses Epsom salts regularly to help relieve the itch. I think the answer is to get the high-grade version (which is the one you can also drink...but I've never tried it).

AlfalfaMum Thu 16-Jun-11 16:12:44

DD2 is similar, she is now 6 and doesn't wake up or wake us up so much anymore (she does still wake up most nights and lies awake on her own - not ideal still but preferable)

Is your DS receptive to relaxation techniques? Yoga seems to be good for DD2, it helps calm her. Also, reflexology for at least 20 minutes at bedtime has been helpful for DD2 (I did a course in this a few years ago, but you could take him to a reflexologist and get them to show you what to do).

Grey24 Fri 17-Jun-11 14:15:18

My DD has just turned 2, and has never, ever slept through the night, and wakes up every 1-3 hours. Last night she was waking up after just 40 mins at times. Constant problem. Am often semi-insane with exhaustion.
Sorry I can't contribute an answer, but just wanted to say Thank You, as I've found this forum an enormous support recently, just by reading people's advice, getting ideas from it and realising that there are people out there who have similarly difficult situations (sleep, but also other issues, like suspected ASD).
Thanks you - I didn't know about Epsom salts but will get some to try (and have heard of weighted blankets, but not yet tried - will Google for suppliers, or try and make one maybe...).

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