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Should I just let her lie there every night?

(36 Posts)
Al1son Tue 05-Jul-11 23:38:11

DD2 is 8 and has AS. She finds it really hard to settle to sleep but doesn't behave badly about it. She's terrified of being alone so lies in bed scared most of every evening until midnight/1.00am. If things get really bad she calls us on the baby monitor but that's only a couple of times each evening.

We go back and reassure her regularly, give her a cuddle and help her to think positive thoughts but I think it must be hell for her every night.

I can hear her one the monitor tossing and turning right now.

I could get Melatonin for her but don't feel comfortable medicating her when I think that if I can get better school provision for her she'll be less anxious and probably sleep better.

She has an iPod with audiobooks on which she listens to sometimes but sometimes hears noises and feels too scared to cover her ears in case she misses something (imaginary) in her room. She wants to watch CBBC iPlayer on her laptop to take her mind off it but I don't allow her to watch things in bed because I think it makes it harder for her to fall asleep. She could watch all night if I let her.

Am I being cruel?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Wed 06-Jul-11 00:03:07

I'd seriously investigate the melatonin, as I think children with ASD or ADHD can be lacking in it, hence the difficulty in getting to sleep. I believe it's more effective in actually getting them to sleep rather than keeping them asleep and it's not the same as sedating them. It's a natural substance that the body produces. If your DD could fall asleep more easily, would that take away some of her anxiety about it?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Wed 06-Jul-11 00:06:18

Ha! Just read the 'Melatonin, is it safe' thread. Maybe ignore my last post, sorry! blush

Claw3 Wed 06-Jul-11 07:45:15

Ds used to be like this, (he still is to a certain extent), a combination of therapy at CAMHS to deal with his anxieties, relaxation techs and positive thoughts methods, changing schools and receiving more help and Melatonin for a short period to 'reset his body clock' have helped.

Al1son Wed 06-Jul-11 08:22:25

I think I'll try to stick it out without melatonin for now. That thread on it is a bit of an eye-opener!

I would really like to think things can get better if we can make some changes at school so it's nice to hear it worked for your DS Claw3. I'm just worried that it's cruel to keep her going like this as it'll probably be a year before things really imporve and that's only if we get the place in the unit we want her to attend.

I like the idea of using melatonin to reset sleeping habits rather than relying on it for a long period.

Claw3 Wed 06-Jul-11 08:37:11

I really didnt want ds to take Melatonin, but lack of sleep was causing him even more anxiety. He was laying awake worrying until 1am-3am every night and so was i!

He then began self harming due to anxiety, so in the grander scheme of things, him being able to sleep when he went to bed, rather than laying awake for hours worrying made more sense, if you see what i mean.

He only took it for a month, that is all it took.

I would add though, Melatonin on its own wouldnt have been such short term, if i hadnt made other changes.

Now ds still needs my help to get to sleep, but he is usually asleep by 11pm.

Good luck with the unit.

Calally Wed 06-Jul-11 09:07:37

Ds had awful trouble getting to sleep. Would put him to bed at 8pm and we'd still be lying there bout 11pm or later, with him tossing n turning etc. Saw new paed for 1st time in feb, she suggested melatonin at 4mg per night. Since then things have Bren so different. He falls asleep bout 40mins after he takes it. Makes it slightly easier, have even been able to send ds to my parents & sister the odd weekend!

Al1son Wed 06-Jul-11 09:13:33

I would so love to be able to send my girls to my mums for the weekend. She has my sisters children all the time but mine never stay over. It would be such a lovely thing to do but I can't let it happen unless I'm sure DD2 would be able to sleep.

zzzzz Wed 06-Jul-11 09:39:02

Question, questions! Sorry but lots of things come to mind.

Has she ever been able to get off to sleep?
What is her diet like?
Does she get physically tired from exercise every day?
Is her room cool?
Does she have a bath at night?
Is there sunlight in her room in the evening [ie thin curtains or light coming in from the hall]?
On the days it is better [ie she sleeps earlier even slightly] what is different?
If you sat in the room with her would she fall to sleep?

I have 2 children with sleep issues, and it isn't simple, but I am not a fan of melatonin as an answer either. I tend to think of my kids as needing all the things any normal kid needs but done as always in a much more prescriptive, and heavy handed way. So I tend to revisit the kind of advice that you give mothers of babies and sort of apply that to my big kids.

I watched a great documentary [i think iplayer before xmas], that said 2 things I have taken away, one was that if your body temp drops you nod off more easily [so it is hot bath followed by cold sheets that does the trick not the warming effect of the bath!] and that if you clench your feet, calves, thighs, butt, back, shoulders, teeth hard in turn for about a minute on each that you will relax and go to sleep more easily. Now the latter won't work with mine because they are not verbal enough, but might be distraction from "bad things" for your little one. I tried it and so did an incredibly dubious dh and we both had to admit it worked.

On the visiting Granny thing, couldn't she go anyway? Surely she could take cbeebies or something just for one night and you could just accept that she is going to be tired? I think the experience is more important than how you get round her issues to do it. I would LOVE for my Mum to take mine for the evening, because they would learn so much just being there overnight.....and frankly so would she! Sadly I don't think it's on offer over here! sad

Al1son Wed 06-Jul-11 10:41:03

Thanks zzzzz. Lots of food for thought there.

She was good at settling as a baby and toddler but it went to pot when she started school.
Her diet is generally healthy although the amount she eats varies very widely. She finds food stressful and boring and I refuse to have battles to persuade her to eat although I do sometimes suggest a small snack or some milk in the evening if I think she might end up hungry.
She does have a bath as part of a regular bedtime routine, primarily for pain from hypermobility syndrome and then her painkillers are timed to have max effect at bedtime.
Light is a big issue because she is terrified of the dark so she has a nightlight plus her main light dimmed to about half power. I am constantly looking for ways to cut the light down because I'm sure it doesn't help but her imagination goes mad if there are shadowy bit in the room so sometimes this is counter-productive. Any suggestions of how to get over this would be very welcome smile
Sitting in the room with her does sometimes help but I'm trying to avoid committing to spending 1 - 2 hours in there every night. Is that unkind? Perhaps I should do it. I just know that she'll get reliant on it once it starts.
I will definitely try the clenching thing. We currently do diaphramatic breathing as suggested by CAMHS but it doesn't usually help a lot.
I would be happy for her to stay awake at Granny's and watch her laptop but sadly Granny wouldn't allow her to do it (being of the opinion that I just need to be firmer about bedtime routines) so she'd end up awake and terrified for a good chunk of the night. She wouldn't even be particularly tired the next day - I don't know how she copes with so little sleep because I'm on my knees at times! It's a nice thought though isn't it?

uninspired Wed 06-Jul-11 10:47:19

I haven't read the melatonin thread but will go do so now.

However my paed said that it is something that the body produces naturally, but people with ASD don't always produce enough. When DS is very anxious we do give it to him (prob once / twice a month) and it does help him get off to sleep.

Other things that we have tried are a bath with lavender oil, relaxation cd and following a wind down routine at night.

uninspired Wed 06-Jul-11 10:48:24

oh and something I do with both mine as DD is a worrier too, is have paper and pen next to the bed so that if something is worrying them I tell them to write it down and we will deal with it in the morning together. Sometimes this helps them to mentally put it to one side, but not always.

zzzzz Wed 06-Jul-11 18:51:34

I think electric light dimmed is far less of an issue than natural light. I find it helps with mine to shut all the curtains before bath time so they have been in the dark/elec light for a while before they hit bed. Is the dark scary if you are there? Personally I think you have two problems one is settling and going to sleep and one is anxiety about being alone in the dark. Both are solvable but not in a over night one time fix way and she will probably revert whenever things get really stressed.

If it was me I would do your usual bedtime thing then turn off all but a night light and the light in the hall, then in the gloom I would sit on the edge of the bed or even better for you on the floor leaning against it, I would talk her through clenching starting at the bottom and working up and then give her a kiss and then you read a book by the light from the door till she goes to sleep. Don't chat, you are just there so she feels safe. Sit in a different position every night so she doesn't get dependent on it. Once she is asleep go downstairs. I find reading on Kindle on my phone is brilliant because there isn't even the sound of pages turning.

Try it for a week, set a timer so you can see if it improves and write it down, if it hasn't worked in a week I think you've given it a go and you need to do something else. I find with everything I try it helps to set a time limit on how long I do it as I can think "3 more days" or what ever.

The way I would rationalise it is sitting in the dark even if it is for an hour or so and having the rest of the evening with a sleeping child is a good trade for me! It really really helps with sleep issues if you go to bed and get up at the same time week round, so you need to teach her to get a snack and turn the telly on if you want a lie in at the weekend!

Al1son Wed 06-Jul-11 19:28:36

OK zzzzz you have got me motivated. Today is probably a good day to start because school was ok and she's had a fairly uneventful evening so far.

DH is working late so there's nothing to come down for anyway.

The dark is scary if I'm there but not quite as much as when I'm not so it may work. If it doesn't at least I can say I've tried.

I try to imagine what it would be like to have two children who go to bed and go to sleep at a sensible time every night. It would be so lovely. As it is it's unusual for them both the be asleep at midnight but at least the older one isn't scared. A few nights of sitting in the dark is a small price to pay for a quiet evening if it works.

I did introduce the pad and pen for writing worries down but that was at a time when writing anything was really stressful. Maybe now's the time to try it again.

Thanks for the support and good ideas smile

zzzzz Wed 06-Jul-11 19:42:49

Fingers and toes crossed for a good first evening. I have the absolute pits as I am having to keep 4 tired children awake [after many many nights in the gloom] because we ahve to pick big sis up at 9.30 and dh is away......grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Sorry I send peaceful vibes. grin

Pixel Wed 06-Jul-11 20:04:44

If it's down to fear of being alone could she have some 'company'? I know lots of people don't like pets in bedrooms but maybe something like an aquarium? Fish can be very soothing so it wouldn't be like watching cartoons etc but might take her mind off possible scary things long enough for her to nod off. Just a thought, ignore if it's silly!

Al1son Wed 06-Jul-11 20:53:45

Not a silly thought at all Pixel. She is dog-obsessed so when we got her a dog we gave him a beanbag in her room and he cooperated beautifully by sleeping on it every evening until we went to bed. She enjoyed his presence but didn't try to interact with him which was great but it didn't solved the fears.

Pixel Wed 06-Jul-11 21:16:38

Oh that's a shame. sad

WhoWhoWhoWho Wed 06-Jul-11 21:36:50

I was going to start a thread for exactly the same issue Al1son, my DS age 6 is exactly the same (but he has always been this way, even as a baby).

It's so hard, I was feeling quite hard on myself the other night as I was really losing patience - my friend pointed out it is the worst time of the day for everyone to be all anxious and wound up as everyone is tired (well I'm tired even if DS isn't)! Mine is very vocal about not wanting to be alone and will cry, wail and whimper until I am by his side so he can invade my personal space, twiddle my hair and whisper gobbledeegook in my ear at high speed. sad

So I have no suggestions but a lot of empathy! Will have a look at melatonin thread myself, I was offered it for DS a while back but refused.

hungryallthetime Wed 06-Jul-11 21:43:21

My son has been taking 2mgmelatonin for the last couple of years. I think it's made a big difference to him (and us). It means he is less grumpy and much more alert in the mornings and happier at school. He used to be awake till 11ish now he's asleep by 9 (he's 9 yrs old). We have had a couple of breaks in the summer Hols, as I was hoping that taking melatonin would regulate his sleep patterns into going to sleep earlier. Unfortunately it hasn't worked like this and he needs to keep taking the tablets to keep the effect.

It's up to individuals to weigh up the advantages & disadvantages of taking any medication and you could read 100's of articles on any drug that would show numerous side effects! But there are also lots of people who 's children do use this drug regularly & don't experience side effects. For me I'm happy that he's happy and feels better for having more sleep - we had tried other natural methods first.

Al1son Wed 06-Jul-11 22:56:02

Well zzzzz you are a wonderful MNer with an incredibly apt name.

I did what you said and she was asleep by10.40. That is a minor miracle!

I am so glad I started this thread. I didn't feel comfortable with what we were doing but couldn't see what needed to change. I needed someone less involved to make sense of it and you did that for me.

Thank you. It feels quite bizzarre to have time before I hit the sack without feeling bad because she's still awake.

DH has just got home from a very long work day and is very relieved smile

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 07-Jul-11 00:02:40

Well done Al1son! Well done zzzzz!

zzzzz Thu 07-Jul-11 09:31:25

Oh Al1son I am SO pleased, and all the credit definitely goes to you and dd for doing it. I have been having a rather depressing week where I am late and disorganised and generally a substandard Mother, so even though I really think you are the one who got on with it, I am now having a little smile at the thought that at least one thing I have said/done this week has made something better instead of more rubbish.

I hope you and dh had a chance for a kid free chat before he crashed. It makes a huge difference when they are asleep and you get an "evening" together [or even frankly alone as mine isn't always back in the evenings]. It's a different world!

PS The zzzzz was because that was all I could think about I was so sleep deprived when I started mn

YAY for you!

Al1son Thu 07-Jul-11 20:06:35

Thanks both.

You'll never believe this but she didn't wake up all night either! I know that's not sustainable but it was lovely and if it happens now and again that's great!

I'm off up to run her bath now so wish me luck for tonight smile

zzzzz I can't believe you are a substandard mother in any way (unless spending too much time on MN counts in which case I think you're in very good company).

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 07-Jul-11 20:40:39

Is there something about Epsom Salts in the bath being good to help DC sleep?

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