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How to help my 7yr old fall asleep


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#1 lovinmyboys

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 10:36 PM

He has never been a good sleeper. He gets plenty of exercise, has a bedtime routine, and wakes up around the same time each morning. I feel like we do everything we are supposed to do. He often will still be awake 2-3 hrs after we put him in bed. He usually falls asleep around 12:30 and wakes up at 7:30. We have used melatonin occasionally and it does seem to work, but I don't want to use it every night. He is starting to get frustrated about it. He tells me he just isn't a good sleeper. Any suggestions?

#2 OhElizabeth

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 11:10 PM

Are you suspecting ADHD? That would be a pretty common thing with ADHD, for a kid to find his mind is wandering and not calming down to go to sleep. It's counter-intuitive, but people with ADHD will say they fall asleep *better* on ADHD meds. You could try giving him a glass of chocolate milk before bed. Hershey's makes a new syrup that has no corn syrup. There are chocolate versions of alternative milks (coconut, etc.) as well. That might be just enough caffeine to get him there.

 



#3 eternalsummer

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 11:39 PM

Does he seem tired during the day?



#4 stephensgirls

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 11:55 PM

This may be somewhat controversial (depending on your religious beliefs) but.... I'm going to suggest it anyway. My daughter (ASD) also has a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. She calls it sleep anxiety. She takes melatonin every night. 5mg. I'll worry about weaning her off it later. But we recently discovered another tool that has really, really helped her. There is an app called Insight Timer. It is a guided meditation app. I am a Christian. I am very careful about what messages something like this would be conveying to my child. But I have been pleased to find some very helpful guided meditations for children--Yes--there is an entire section of meditations specifically for children. The reason I know about this app in the first place is because a friend's therapist recommended it to him. He told me about it. I downloaded it for me to use. 

 

I forgot about Insight Timer until recently when dd's "sleep anxiety" really peaked. She was refusing to sleep over at her bff's house. She has never had a problem sleeping over before. I thought the guided meditations I had used (with great success) might be helpful to her, too. I was really excited to see that they had added the section for children. That wasn't a thing the last time I had used it. 

 

I hate that I can't remember right now what dd's favorite meditations are. I know one has something to do with the ocean. They really, really helped her to calm down at night. Helped her to not be anxious about not being able to fall asleep. And actually helped her to fall asleep a lot quicker than she would have otherwise. She used the app every night for awhile--and especially when sleeping over at her friend's house. Now she is in a better routine. The anxiety isn't what it was (I credit the app). So she only uses Insight Timer when she is particularly wound up. 

 

If this is something that you would consider, it's available for both iphone/ipad and android. it's free!


Edited by stephensgirls, 10 August 2017 - 12:16 AM.

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#5 OhElizabeth

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 12:01 AM

You can download the tracks for free to Sitting Like a Frog. It's the same idea with mindfulness.



#6 stephensgirls

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 12:06 AM

Also, is he addicted to screens? Screens are bad for sleep. I'm sure you've already thought of this, but it can be so hard to enforce. DD was always wanting to sneak her ipad to bed with her to watch a show. Bad, bad idea. She knows now. After a certain time,  no shows, no games, etc. She can use her ipad to listen to a book or Insight Timer. She's good with it now that she knows what a difference it makes.


Edited by stephensgirls, 10 August 2017 - 12:07 AM.


#7 Twolittleboys

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 04:24 AM

We do have the Sitting like a frog meditation and it seems to work (though my son thinks it is boring - yeah, that is kind of the point of it!). 

 

Does your son seem tired during the day? If not, maybe he just doesn't need that much sleep so I would move his bedtime up to keep him from being frustrated.


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#8 Laura Corin

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 04:26 AM

You say that he gets plenty of exercise - what would be the typical amount?



#9 fdrinca

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 05:12 AM

Have you tried:

 

tart cherry juice

magnesium (epsom salt baths or products like Natural Calm)

diligent sleep hygiene (esp: screens, sunlight before bed)

 

What does your son do in between being put to bed and going to sleep? 



#10 lovinmyboys

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 07:56 AM

I don't think he has ADHD. The reasons I don't think it is enough sleep is because he will sometimes try to fall asleep around 5pm on the couch or in the car. Also, he has really low frustration tolerance and I think if he had more sleep that would help.

The amount of exercise he gets in a day doesn't seem to matter. After a particularly active day people will say "I bet he sleeps great tonight." I don't think he has fallen asleep in less than an hour for a long time.

He stopped sucking his thumb a few months ago and I think that is what he used to do in the hours before he fell asleep. Now he listens to an audiobook and he has a few stuffed animals in his bed. I think he lays there and thinks because when I check on him he always has a million things to say to me.

He goes to bed around 10pm. He really can't stay up later. He is only 7 and Dh and I are ready for a quiet house by then. Dh gets up at 5.

I will try some of these suggestions. I am really hoping to help him with this.
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#11 Elizabeth86

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:09 AM

I dont know, but my oldest is the same way. His dad is the same way, my dh is a horrible sleeper. Those two are so much alike it doesnt surprise me. Im just glad we homeschool.
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#12 Iron Jenny Flint

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:15 AM

Guided Sleep Meditations by The Honest Guys on Youtube.

#13 MedicMom

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:20 AM

My seven year old needs to have a brain dump before he can fall asleep. So we lay together in bed and he tells me all the brilliant things his mind is thinking. I do the same thing, to be honest--can't turn my brain off. I now use ASMR and meditations to fall asleep by.
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#14 Tanaqui

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:21 AM

You know what? Try him on something with caffeine anyway. People with ADHD react strangely to stimulants - it calms their brains down! If he falls asleep better after a cup of coffee or a can of coca-cola (or even a caffeine pill with water) then you can decide whether or not you want to pursue a formal diagnosis.

 

I also second the idea of meditation. I find for myself that my brain gets really active and hyped up when I'm tired. It just wants to run in all directions, no matter how exhausted my body is. It helps me to sit down, hold my body very still, and focus on not thinking. I don't typically consider this meditation, since I started doing this as a child as an experiment to see if I could stop thinking, but it's basically the same thing. Eventually my brain figures out what it's supposed to be doing. Not daydreaming, not obsessing over problems, not earworming - it's supposed to be resting.

 

How dark are his curtains in his room? That's another thought. If they're letting in some light, he might do better with complete darkness. Or if it's birds awakening him in the morning, maybe a white noise machine.


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#15 Rach

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:25 AM

He goes to bed around 10pm. He really can't stay up later. He is only 7 and Dh and I are ready for a quiet house by then. Dh gets up at 5.

I will try some of these suggestions. I am really hoping to help him with this.


I wonder if you are missing "his window" by putting him to bed at 10. I find when I stay up a little too late I get a second wind and have trouble going to sleep. I wonder if you tried an 8:30 bedtime for a week or two combined with the melatonin if he would have an easier time. I would also cut off all screen time 2-3 hours before bed and switch the audiobook for white noise.

My 9 year old is the same way as me, the later he gets to bed, the more trouble he has falling asleep. He is also a thinker, I have him keep a notebook near his bed so that when his thoughts start to prevent him from sleeping, he can write them down.

I hope you figure out something that works!
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#16 Bluegoat

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:33 AM

My thought, given that he is looking to nap around 5, and has a 10pm bedtime, is that he may actually need an earlier bedtime, maybe something closer to 8pm.  Being over-tired can actually make sleep much more difficult. 


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#17 MercyA

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:40 AM

I would make sure he is eating a very clean diet--no dyes, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or artificial or "natural" flavors. Additives horribly interfere with my sleep and with my daughter's sleep. They make me feel wired and unable to sleep, even if I am very tired.


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#18 Starr

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:46 AM

My dd finally started sleeping by listening to a story tape. haha a few years ago. It had to be a story she knew well to drift off. If it was something new or music it kept her awake. I hope you find something that works for your ds.  :grouphug:



#19 Dust

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 09:20 AM

Mine was getting scared at night and not going to sleep, so I give him something telling him it will make his stomach feel not scared.

 

It's a probiotic, but it works (assuming it's the placebo effect - planning to test it with chewable vitamins when the probiotic runs out).  



#20 Katy

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 09:30 AM

What happens right before 5?  A high-carb snack?

 

What time does he get up in the morning?   7:30

 

 


Edited by Katy, 10 August 2017 - 10:08 AM.


#21 MBM

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 09:50 AM

You could try having your son listen to Marconi Union's song 'Weightless' which was has been found to reduce stress hormones and lower heart rate. It's an 8-minute song. You can listen to it on YouTube or buy it on iTunes. Best to use headphones so you can hear the beats well.

 

To give you an example of how well it's worked for us, for years my husband had a lot of trouble sleeping. Extended-release melatonin helped somewhat but he'd still wake up around 3 or 4. The melatonin wasn't working well and we don't like the idea of taking it long term anyway so began looking for something else to try. He started listening to Weightless and, lo and behond, he now sleeps through the night. No melatonin.

 

I've noticed that sometimes my heart rate will drop about 10-15 beats after listening to it and I feel much calmer. We listen to it as needed but always before sleeping.


Edited by MBM, 10 August 2017 - 10:02 AM.

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#22 Elizabeth86

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 09:58 AM

My seven year old needs to have a brain dump before he can fall asleep. So we lay together in bed and he tells me all the brilliant things his mind is thinking. I do the same thing, to be honest--can't turn my brain off. I now use ASMR and meditations to fall asleep by.


Yes we do this too. My ds doesnt share much through the day, but we chat for hours in bed at night.

#23 wintermom

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 10:19 AM

I always have an easier time falling to sleep when the "inner voice" in my head is something relatively relaxing, such as a boring book. If I read something too interesting or have too many thoughts (negative or positive) going through my head, it's much more difficult to fall asleep. 



#24 stephensgirls

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 09:37 PM

I wonder if you are missing "his window" by putting him to bed at 10. I find when I stay up a little too late I get a second wind and have trouble going to sleep. I wonder if you tried an 8:30 bedtime for a week or two combined with the melatonin if he would have an easier time. I would also cut off all screen time 2-3 hours before bed and switch the audiobook for white noise.

My 9 year old is the same way as me, the later he gets to bed, the more trouble he has falling asleep. He is also a thinker, I have him keep a notebook near his bed so that when his thoughts start to prevent him from sleeping, he can write them down.

I hope you figure out something that works!

 

 

My thought, given that he is looking to nap around 5, and has a 10pm bedtime, is that he may actually need an earlier bedtime, maybe something closer to 8pm.  Being over-tired can actually make sleep much more difficult. 

 

This is so true! Excellent advice. I didn't even think about this at first. At that age my kids needed an 8:00 bedtime. Heck--I needed them to have an 8:00 bedtime for my sanity!


Edited by stephensgirls, 10 August 2017 - 09:38 PM.

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#25 Noreen Claire

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 10:17 PM

My DS8 also would stay up for hours after lights-out before he was able to fall asleep. I bought him a  small book light and he brings a book to bed to read until he feels tired. (He shares a room with DS5). He's been doing this for nearly a year now. His regular bedtime is 8:15-8:30pm, and he wakes up around 7am. Some nights he's asleep by 8:45 and others he's up until 10, but at least he's rested and not stressed out anymore about not being able to fall asleep.

 

Just don't let him read Dracula before bedtime - ask me how I know.  :banghead:


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#26 lovinmyboys

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 10:59 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I didn't have a chance to try any tonight and it is almost midnight here and he is still awake. He complains that he can't sleep but it really seems like he tries to stay awake. He thinks about things and flops around. I told him to see if it is possible to think about nothing for 20 breaths. And I had him turn off his audiobook that he finds funny and turn on All of a Kind Family, which he likes but is much slower paced. I can't really relax to sleep until he is asleep.

Edited by lovinmyboys, 10 August 2017 - 11:05 PM.


#27 sbgrace

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 11:30 PM

My son struggles with sleep. We've worked with experts, and I've tried lots of things. 

 

I'll say that extended problems with falling asleep can lead to sleep anxiety and negative thinking and associating the bed and bedtime with problems falling asleep that can be hard to overcome. 

 

I would suggest you get the book "What to Do When You Dread Your Bed," so that you know what a behavioral sleep specialist would recommend. I'd use it and the melatonin (you can get .5 mg small doses from Amazon--Pure Encapsulations--I dump it on a spoon). It's better, imo and experience, to use melatonin to establish good falling asleep associations than to try to correct established poor ones. He's already seeing himself as a problem sleeper. You want to nip that in the bud as quickly as you can. Then you can build in some of the types of things mentioned on this thread to be positive sleep associations and you may be able to fade the melatonin. But I'd do what I could to build positive experiences for him so he sees himself as a good sleeper. 


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#28 ondreeuh

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 04:41 AM

My 3 kids have trouble sleeping. Two of them are on ADHD stimulants and that probably contributes. All 3 have a prescription for Clonidine (0.1 mg - very small dose). The two at home take that with 3 mg Melatonin every night at 7. They both wake up early, but usually after 5. We haven't had any issues with the Clonidine, and the fact that it gets them to sleep is priceless. Last winter we tried to stop the Clonidine and they each skipped a whole night's sleep, and then slept sporadically and fitfully over the next couple of weeks. We declared our experiment a failure and put them back on the meds.

 

There is a weighted blanket thread here - read that and see if you want to give one a try. I fall asleep within minutes, but even I want one! I'm thinking of sewing them, though. There are lots of tutorials online.

 

My DH takes a long time to fall asleep, but he reads a kindle with very low light until he can sleep. He is jealous of my lame "super power" of being able to fall aslep at any time of day.

 

 



#29 Rach

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 07:02 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. I didn't have a chance to try any tonight and it is almost midnight here and he is still awake. He complains that he can't sleep but it really seems like he tries to stay awake. He thinks about things and flops around. I told him to see if it is possible to think about nothing for 20 breaths. And I had him turn off his audiobook that he finds funny and turn on All of a Kind Family, which he likes but is much slower paced. I can't really relax to sleep until he is asleep.

I'm sorry, hang in there!

Edited by Rach, 11 August 2017 - 07:04 AM.


#30 lovinmyboys

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 10:00 PM

Just an update from tonight. I gave him melatonin and put him in bed at 9:30. He was asleep by 10. I'm glad the melatonin works but I don't really want to give it to him every night.
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#31 stephensgirls

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 10:19 PM

Just an update from tonight. I gave him melatonin and put him in bed at 9:30. He was asleep by 10. I'm glad the melatonin works but I don't really want to give it to him every night.

 

That's great! I would try backing up the bedtime by a little bit each night. maybe 15 minute increments. I can't remember how much sleep a 7 year old needs--and I'm sure it's somewhat individual--but I think mine were sleeping 10 or 11 hours still at that age. 

 

I wouldn't worry too much about giving the melatonin. I mean, I understand your reservations--I used to feel that way. But I think it's much better to have some consistent positive experiences and the good associations someone mentioned previously. And I don't think tolerance is much of an issue with melatonin. At least it hasn't been for us. Maybe someone else here can clarify that. We've been able to stick with the same dose.


Edited by stephensgirls, 11 August 2017 - 10:20 PM.

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#32 stephensgirls

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 10:24 PM

Also, as bad a rap as "the Ferber method" gets--consider reading Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber. it's not just about getting babies to sleep through the night. It addresses problems throughout all ages of childhood--into the teen years. It was really, really helpful. Lot's of good information about kids and sleep that I would have never known otherwise. It's very easy to read--very parent friendly. 


Edited by stephensgirls, 11 August 2017 - 10:28 PM.


#33 muttmomma

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 10:40 PM

We have used any one of these the things since my son was about 8: melatonin, clonodine (prescription) or benadryl.

What helped him the most wad getting on zoloft at age 14. Game changer. He hardly ever needs anything to help him now. Some kids are just born anxious. Sleep was al ways an issue for him. .. Even as a baby.

#34 Bluegoat

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:31 AM

Just an update from tonight. I gave him melatonin and put him in bed at 9:30. He was asleep by 10. I'm glad the melatonin works but I don't really want to give it to him every night.

 

I'm very conservative with things like that, but think it would be worthwhile to use it carefully to help set the bedtime back to a more reasonable tim, along with other methods.


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#35 LarlaB

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:55 AM

Just an update from tonight. I gave him melatonin and put him in bed at 9:30. He was asleep by 10. I'm glad the melatonin works but I don't really want to give it to him every night.


Woohoo! I understand. I've been there (see below). But giving him melatonin for a few weeks to establish good sleep habits will not hurt him. He needs to see that he CAN go to sleep earlier and easier...positive reinforcement for the 1001 times he's said he cannot sleep. I'd recommend chewable Theanine as well- it's very calming and was helpful to me son.

I agree that cessation of thumb sucking as a soothing technique might be at the root of this. You may need to find him something new to help
Him calm- music, reading, routine etc

My son developed sleep anxiety last year, and we had to work VERY hard to get past- he just couldn't get to sleep and would stay awake for hours- super tired and frustrated. After a few weeks he became very anxious about it and I was very tired and frustrated as well. The only way he could fall asleep was for me to lay down with him - and then would literally fall asleep in 5 minutes most nights.

Eventually I built on that- he WAS able to physically go to sleep earlier and easily- just needed to learn to relaxation himself. Without too many details, I did a bunch of research and developed a routine including relaxing music, essential oil, reading 1 hour at bedtime (his mind tends to wander when listening to stories), melatonin and Theanine combo (then just Theanine, now nothing) and a clear goodnight (meaning I leave and don't come back). And added some CBT techniques as well during the day to learn to deal with anxiety. He successfully went to sleep on his own and "on time" that first night and has been great ever since.

That reminds me....I would also not check on him 25x to see if he is asleep or awake- or interact with him in any way after it's time for him to be asleep. It may sound harsh but I think a lot of kids rely on that to soothe- and your goal is to eventually get them to self soothe and fall asleep independently. I noticed with my DS it's like he saved up things to tell me the next time I came in. I set a bedtime where he knew I wouldn't check on him anymore...and was very clear about it. He could chatter endlessly prior to that and tell me everything his heart desires...and then it was bedtime routine. If he needed me for something urgent- illness emergency he could come to me, but I needed to stop checking in.

That was long but I wanted to share first hand experience. It took a while for us, but has been so worth to! Good luck!

#36 Tanaqui

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 02:24 PM

I agree with Stephensgirls - push his bedtime back gradually, by 5 - 15 minutes a day, until waking time - sleep time = at least 9 hours. (That's the lower limit. Many children his age need 10 or 11 hours of sleep. Take your cue from his behavior.)

 

And I don't think melatonin will harm him - certainly not as much as sleep deprivation would, in the long run. Keep him on it until he's consistently sleeping at a reasonable bedtime, then consider tapering off.


Edited by Tanaqui, 12 August 2017 - 02:26 PM.


#37 Katy

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 02:55 PM

To the contrary, I've been told melatonin not only isn't something you can have dependence on, but it's also something that can help reset the sleep schedules of kids with anxiety, trauma, or ADHD.  Push his bedtime back to 7:30 or 8, give it to him half an hour before bedtime for 3 weeks, then see how he does without it. He may be fine without it (or with just half a dose, or with just a gummy vitamin as a placebo) once he's lost the anxiety about not being able to sleep.


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