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12 yo sad every night before bed

13 replies

sunshine05 · 03/05/2021 00:05

I don't know what to do. My 12 year old son is sad every night before bed. He's had issues sleeping since he was 8. It's become a ridiculous routine of him saying goodnight to me 10 times before he finally let's me go. Sometimes- well maybe 3 out of 7 nights he gets upset. I do a relaxation thing with him - relaxing muscles etc and we imagine we're far away etc to relax him. I've asked him why he feels sad and he can't tell me. Maybe he's tired?? Its usually after 11 most nights. I'm shattered so he must feel worse! I've asked him if there's any issues at school and he says no. He literally can't articulate why he's feeling sad. I'm at a loss and so tired from all the late nights. Any suggestions??

OP posts:
Shelby10 · 03/05/2021 00:10

Hello. My son used to have the odd night like this. He grew out of it but he was anxious about school when he was younger, especially at 11/12. Maybe speak to your GP.. they will be able to offer possible reasons and advice. It’s hard seeing your children upset and good to get to the route cause if you can.

Mammyloveswine · 03/05/2021 00:10

Could he "wind down" with a suitable podcast? It could be anxiety and he doesn't know how else to describe it? Maybe a gp trip could help?

AlmostSummer21 · 03/05/2021 00:18

Make bed time something nice and earlier.

Hot shower, fresh pj's and a story. (Yep being read to is nice however old you are.) shower at 8:30, bed by nine, read until quarter past and back for lights out at 9:30.

Or start at 8 with lights out at 9. He needs 9-11 hours of sleep and not getting enough sleep won't help him regulate his emotions

Tambora · 03/05/2021 00:18

He is going to be overtired if it's that late at night, but it's a bit of a Catch 22 isn't it? Do you think it might be some sort of separation anxiety?

TaraR2020 · 03/05/2021 00:26

Not a solution I'm afraid, op, but could you make recordings of yourself reading/talking to him that he can play quietly after you've said goodnight? Maybe this will help him settle.

On that note, soothing music or sounds might also help - classical, acoustic, nature sounds etc

BluebirdHill · 03/05/2021 00:30

Try the Headspace sleepcasts. Mine of the same age has settled down a lot better with them on and had similar things where a lot of negative thinking would surface at bedtime.

lighteincastlewindow · 03/05/2021 00:54

It is an unspoken anxiety thing. My young lad is still in the midst of this and says that every worry, every thought - be it about stuff that happens during the day, to what happens when someone dies, heaven, life, forever, sickness, getting old... etc etc, hits him because he is alone in the dark and can't stop the thoughts. He articulates it well after being pressed. I don't know the solution, I think they will grow out of it, I let him sleep in my bed on certain nights when I can see it's built up and let him have that option to relax his mind or talk to him about it more and see if any of the above is relevant.

sunshine05 · 03/05/2021 23:21

Thanks for all the responses!

I did see the GP when he initially had sleep issues years ago. Although he was very sympathetic and listened, nothing really came of it.

I actually had a really good chat with him tonight. He opened up to me about his anxieties and although it made his bedtime late, I think it was a great step into him recognising what's causing him the anxiety and I've said to him we can chat every night, just earlier!

Yes AlmostSummer21 he often goes to bed too late but it's not from a lack of us trying to get him to bed earlier. It's been exhausting, nagging him, trying to get him to bed at 9 and then read. He always finds an excuse to come down and get something or go to the loo etc.

I didn't mention he's developed some compulsions. Things like checking things, saying goodnight to me 5 times, he even admitted to going into our bathroom and checking the ceiling and shutting the windows. He's written it all down this evening and put a cross next to non-essential things he does. He's very aware of it and is going to try and cut down.

I'll keep an eye on it. I did have some compulsions at his age, so maybe it's hereditary? Mine never became an issue in my daily life but certaily got worse if I was stressed.

I'll also try the Headspace app, thanks! x

OP posts:
sunshine05 · 03/05/2021 23:22

Tambora I don't think it's a separation thing, but definitely general anxiety. He mentioned school friends, general issues, sometimes stress about homework and clubs etc.

OP posts:
SlB09 · 03/05/2021 23:31

I had this at this age and agree with @lighteincastlewindow . I remember writing my mum letters saying 'i feel like I want to cry and I don't know why'. It was all put down to hormones but now I'm much older I see this was the start of me experiencing depressive/anxious episodes. As an adult I can look back and say the one thing that would have helped me immensely at this time and probably helped prevent it eeking into adult life was if someone had let me know everyone worries/feels down/ruminates etc to some extent and this is normal, I felt very 'weird' and 'different' and that everyone else was happy and didn't think sad things etc. If it had been normalised and I was given ways to cope and build resilience I think this would have really helped in older teen/young adult life.

Lydia777 · 03/05/2021 23:44

I have OCD and his compulsions sound like it could be this. I hate that so many people see OCD as a 'clean thing'. To me, his behavior sounds like exactly this.

As a child, I had those strange compulsions too - checking to see if windows/doors were closed etc before bed/ having to do random things a series of times.

He may also be having intrusive thoughts at night which cause anxiety/difficulty winding down. I have had a recurrence recently and at night I sometimes have terribly intrusive illogical thoughts of terrible things that I could do/may happen. They are illogical but that makes no difference.

I am beginning medication again.

I may be wrong but I remember hearing someone speak on the radio as a child about OCD and I looked it up in our family encyclopedias. It was a revelation and I still remember the feeling of finally understanding what was wrong with me. Perhaps speak to the GP and ask for a referral.

FizzingWhizzbee123 · 04/05/2021 22:31

Just put this reply on another read about an 11yr old struggling to settle, but it was actually your son I was thinking that this might help and put it on the wrong thread. I’ve cut and paste it again below. For the record, I don’t work for Loóna or anything 🤣 I’ve just personally found it a very helpful bedtime app.

“I’m awful for “busy brain” at bedtime, I can’t switch off, mulling everything over. I’ve recently started using the Loóna app and finding it really really effective. I often don’t even finish a sleepscape, I find myself dozing off half way through and literally just put my phone down and shut my eyes. I know screens aren’t recommended close to bedtime but my phone has a bedtime screen setting to reduce blue light and I’d seen a really difference since using the app (especially to stop me doom scrolling or googling things that pop into my head, as I can’t do that while using the app!)

It’s a paid for app but comes with a free trial. The full version was offered at a reduced price if you cancel after the free trial and ignore the app for a few days. I think I paid £15 for the whole year, and considering I use it every night, it was money well spent. Might be worth to trying if audiobooks/mediations don’t hold his focus?”

lljkk · 05/05/2021 08:07

One of my kids often did the "I feel so sad!" thing at bedtime.

I ended up saying, coz I believe it, that it's a chemical thing in the brain.
The brain chemicals make all the things you can deal with in day time seem much more upsetting than they truly are worth being upset about.
The solution is to go to sleep to make the sadness go away.

Dunno if that works for others but it's not a current problem for us.

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