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Does anyone have tips or ideas for helping an child fall asleep? My son (8) has always had a hard time falling asleep. Bedtime was a nightmare when he was a baby. He screamed for at least an hour every night while we walked him around before falling asleep- usually 2, sometimes 6. Until he was 2. If we tried to let him cry it out, he would never quit. As he got older, he quit screaming and just played quietly in his bed or talked to his toys and sang songs for hours. We were just happy he wasn't screaming. When he quit taking naps, we noticed that the lack of sleep was getting to him and his behavior changed- he looked like he had ADD and he was crazy silly. Knowing how he got as a baby when he was overtired, I really think it was just lack of sleep. Our Dr recommended melatonin nightly and it changed our life. He fell asleep like a normal person and slept all night, woke up rested, his behavior and focus improved, and all was well. Now, several years later, we feel we need to quit the melatonin. He no longer responds to small doses and we aren't comfortable raising the dosage any higher. He also had been complaining of nightmares and I know that can be related to melatonin too.

 

But he still can't fall asleep on his own. He's been staying up for hours in his bed again and his behavior, focus, and moods are deteriorating again. I don't know what else we could try. I don't want to give him benadryl every night and he's already had a sleep study that showed there is nothing wrong. Is there anything else like melatonin that is safe and effective? He actually wants to fall asleep and misses the melatonin. I know he isn't up reading or playing with toys to keep himself awake. He's just sitting there thinking about all his ideas and making up stories in his head. As a toddler and preschooler, the only way I could get him to sleep was to lay next to him, hold him still, and every time he wiggled or talked or opened his eyes, I'd tell him to stop it. Otherwise, he'd keep himself awake with wiggles, giggles, and looking around. Obviously, he's too big for that now. ;)

 

Does anyone else have a child like this? I have a hard time falling asleep too, but nothing like him.

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Does anyone have tips or ideas for helping an child fall asleep?

 

Our Dr recommended melatonin nightly and it changed our life. He fell asleep like a normal person and slept all night, woke up rested, his behavior and focus improved, and all was well. Now, several years later, we feel we need to quit the melatonin. He no longer responds to small doses and we aren't comfortable raising the dosage any higher. He also had been complaining of nightmares and I know that can be related to melatonin too.

 

Is there anything else like melatonin that is safe and effective? He actually wants to fall asleep and misses the melatonin. I know he isn't up reading or playing with toys to keep himself awake. He's just sitting there thinking about all his ideas and making up stories in his head. As a toddler and preschooler, the only way I could get him to sleep was to lay next to him, hold him still, and every time he wiggled or talked or opened his eyes, I'd tell him to stop it. Otherwise, he'd keep himself awake with wiggles, giggles, and looking around. Obviously, he's too big for that now. ;)

 

Does anyone else have a child like this? I have a hard time falling asleep too, but nothing like him.

 

My Dd has sleep issues and takes melatonin. It helps but she still wakes at night... it helps her get to sleep though and she gets about 6 hrs of sleep before she wakes up, then falls back to sleep about 1-2 hrs later for a few more hours.

 

Today I have been told about nonpasturized honey is great for treating insomnia. So we will be trying this.

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If Benadryl will help him to fall asleep, I would use it. Every. single. night. I would use it before using melatonin. It has been around almost forever. It is not addictive. Tons of kids are on allergy meds round the clock for life with no major problems.

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The problem with using benadryl is that it quits sedating him after a while. His pediatrician recommended it for allergies when he was a toddler and it was great for a while. It really helped him sleep and improved his allergies. After a few weeks, however, it still helped his allergies but quit making him sleepy. I've never heard of the honey. Where would you get unpasteurized honey? I'm thinking of trying chamomile tea but I'm not sure he would want to drink it every night. He only has trouble falling asleep. He doesn't have problems waking up or staying asleep.

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Epsom baths work for us, we've also used homeopathic stuff over the years.

Have you tried massage, meditations, cds for sleep, tea, or weighted blankets?

 

There's also yoga to promote good sleep.

An acupuncturist might be able to help, maybe not with needles (if your child was afraid), but with acupressure and herbs.

 

ETA:

We give this to our 8yo once in a while: http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Vitality-Calm-Rasp-Lemon-powder/dp/B000WVY4PE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1276830242&sr=8-1

 

Is there anything you can improve, in your night time schedule? For us every little thing count when it comes to sleep. My kids sleep much better if their room is clean and dusted, also having the sheets fresh.

Edited by helena
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I wish I had something more to add, but melatonin works for my 8yo son. I've found that keeping a consistant bedtime helps, and have a let down period of at least 30 minutes before bed.

I began researching this last year when my sons lack of sleep led to a tic disorder. I've read that most children with these sleep issues also tend to have underlying anxiety issues. Once I really studied on it, I began to realize that my son had always been the anxious sort. We are working on that together. He too had a hard time sleeping, even as a baby.

 

Christina

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I know some people don't have problems with Melatonin, but I can't recommend it because not only did I hallucinate when I took it, but my youngest had nightmares which she SWORE were real, while taking it. She was INSISTING that my dh hit her in the eye with a pipe and gave her a black eye. I could talk until my head fell off, trying to convince her that I would have seen a black eye on her face. She absolutely believed it. And it happened many times.

 

I'd highly recommend this: http://www.calmsforte.com/home/

 

Also, this came recommended on a neuro yahoo group I belonged to. It helped me a lot:

 

http://www.mindalive.com/Products_DAVID_PAL.htm

 

I had ONE session of neurofeedback, and I slept like a baby for 3 - 4 months. I've had chronic insomnia due to PTSD for 30 years now. I'm a HUGE fan about neurofeedback. The only problem with this is that you need to find an experienced person, and that may not be easy for you.

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Has your doctor said he needs to be off Melatonin? I've never heard anyone say it wasn't safe and effective. My son has been on it daily for almost 8 years, and I don't anticipate taking him off of it. Like your experience, it changed our lives.

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Our DD had a lot of sleep issues at that age as well. Much of it was anxiety or just thinking too much, making up stories in her head, etc. No medication would help at all. Once we started homeschooling it was easier to deal with because we could adjust our family sleep schedule to meet her needs. We have found that the later she goes to bed the easier it is for her to fall asleep. Normally she goes to sleep between 11 and midnight and she is much more at ease. We just let her read until then. The other thing we did was allow her to turn her own light off and not to have a set time that it had to happen at. We don't allow her to roam around the house after 10, but she can be in her bed doing a quiet activity. There was just so much pressure on DD b/c she was frustrated that she couldn't sleep and then I would get upset at her not sleeping. Once I stepped back and accepted that her sleep patterns were different from the rest of the family things got much better. DD is 13 now and we rarely have a sleep "fight". I don't know if this helps, but I thought I would share our experience. I know that sleep issues are very frustrating to deal with.

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We have a weighted blanket that nearly everyone in the house has used sometimes when they couldn't fall asleep. When my daughter was young she slept best in a lofty mummy sleeping bag.

 

http://www.southpawenterprises.com/SLIP-COVER-WEIGHTED-BLANKET-P243.aspx

 

You might want to look into Restless Leg Syndrome. I had it for awhile due to some medication I was on and adults would come through the forums saying that sleep had been an absolute nightmare when they were kids because they couldn't explain what was happening.

 

Even if RLS doesn't ring a bell, it still sounds like he would be a good candidate for a sleep study.

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Ds has always had sleep issues. When he was a baby we didn't get much sleep until we started cosleeping. We used Benadryl, but he would build a tolerance. We now use a small dose of Melatonin, but I have him 5 days on, 2 days off so he doesn't build a tolerance. He also uses a weighted blanket. Some nights nothing works. (Usually it will be the night after I had a bad night:glare:) My niece had sleep issues, and it ended up being an iron deficiency which was causing restless leg syndrome. It took a year to straighten out, but she was on the road to being dx'd with ADHD, and that no longer applied. Her doctor mentioned she had quite a few kids with the same issue that were no longer ADHD after treatment. You may want to think about a seeing a sleep specialist.

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My 7 year old son is very much the same. It takes him 2-3 hours to fall asleep because his brain just keeps going and is in overdrive so it takes a really long time for him to fall asleep.

He does have anxiety so that does play a role. He, like your son has had trouble falling asleep since infancy the only way you can get him to sleep quicker (meaning about an hour) is to lay with him.

Have you tried classical music or lavendar leaves in the pillow? We kind of go through a routine, it goes like this...

 

Kisses goodnight

Devotions

He can read a book of his choice

After an hour in bed book light goes out.

he usually falls asleep about 1.5 hours after that.

 

Classical music is what has REALLY helped at bedtime.

 

Feel free to pm me if you have any other questions.

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Our daughter (four) does the same thing - she hates going to bed, screams and throws tantrums, and eventually lays down and tells stories to herself for hours. She will sometimes wake in the middle of the night and do the same thing for two to three hours before falling asleep again for a couple hours in the early morning. It is driving us crazy. We have tried melatonin (even in high doses, as from the research I have done, it isn't dangerous unless taken in very great quantities over a long period for most people) with no effect. Dramamine works for a couple hours (on a flight or something). We have an established bedtime routine. I think she is anxious - that makes a lot of sense with the year we have had - but there is not much I can do to change our situation right now. I would love to know something that would help her sleep despite anxiety, as her lack of sleep just makes it worse for her and for us.

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Can you retry the melatonin now after a bit of time off? You could try switching to the long acting or short acting to see if that makes a difference.

 

When he is sleeping well does he seem ADD at all? For some kids their minds just go so fast that they can't relax. For those kids the doctor might try a low does stimulant for ADD and for some kids (as weird as it sounds) it slows their busy minds down enough for them to be able to relax and fall asleep.

 

Does changing bed time make a difference? For some kids going be bed MUCH earlier works---before they get over tired and get a 2nd wind. For others, they are more night owls and do better with later bed times.

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My youngest ds is like this. When he was younger, I would sit with him, and rub lavendar lotion onto his back while praying aloud. It sometimes helped.

 

What helped most, though -- and I know it sounds weird -- was when I would tickle him to sleep. He actually relaxed when I would run my fingers VERY lightly over his feet, back, and tummy.

 

He's now almost 15yo and still has trouble falling asleep a lot of the time.

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Thanks for the ideas. I gave him some chamomile tea tonight and he really liked it and my husband said he did seem calmer when he went to bed. I'll try some of the other ideas too. One doctor thinks it is anxiety but I'm not convinced. He's not thinking anxious thoughts at night, he's thinking about stories with happy, exciting thoughts! I have thought homeschooling may help because he can sleep in, but he still wouldn't get as much sleep as he needs without intervention. He's up before 8am no matter what time he goes to bed and I let him sleep until 7 on school days, so that's only an hour.

 

He had a sleep study a few years ago and we got nothing out of it. I don't know if they tested for RLS. I wonder if his pediatrician could look it up for me. I have thought that maybe it was restless leg syndrome too because when I used to hold him to make him sleep he was very restless. He won't take the melatonin anymore because he's convinced it gave him nightmares and he may be right. Maybe he would be ok with going back to the lower dose and then taking the weekends or every third day off or something. He was at the point where even 6mg wasn't making him sleepy.

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My youngest is a night owl, and probably sleeps about 8 hours (but she sleeps in. She is not one to be up at 6, never has). But she is not fussy or cranky. She is awake now (nope, not now. She fell asleep about 12:30), drawing with a little clip-on book light, listening to an audio book. She has never fallen asleep early, but again, she is not in need of us or upset.

 

She is very easy-going, personality-wise, but she never slept much, even as a baby. She nursed every 45 minutes to 2 hours, around the clock for over a year. She was born at home, and slept with us from the beginning. She is very easy to settle, however. She doesn't have nightmares etc.

 

I don't know if we are dealing with the same type of personality. I never thought her sleep 'oddities' were an issue as my dh is a very calm, productive person who is not a big sleeper. (Although I do remember being so tired in those early months that my bones themselves ached. I am not saying it's easy). He has no anxiety (nor does dd); he just doesn't need 10 or 12 hours of sleep nightly. Both dh and dd are super-productive in the evening. Does your ds take after anyone??

 

Could you set him up with audio books, a flash light etc in his room?

 

I've never given any sleep meds (unless you count breastmilk lol) to my night owl. She is her father, and I have known him foerver, and he's cool. :D Not everyone has the same sleep needs...

Edited by LibraryLover
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One of my kids needed audio books from a young age to help him turn his mind off.

 

The other one didn't get into audio books until age 8 but has always liked music to relax.

 

We collect whatever they like and stick them all on a giant bedside table along with a cd player that the kid at issue can operate. I still am up more than I like but overall they are mostly trained to put on what they need and hang out listening. Even if I'm in bed with them at that point it is easier if they can put on what will be helpful to listen to.

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