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Any ideas for dd's insomnia

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I'm not sure if I posted about this before but I'm very worried about my 13 year old dd. Her sleep cycle has always been a little different. She has always had trouble falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning. Up until now it has been tolerable and she has been able to keep a fairly normal schedule. Last fall she really started having troubles falling asleep. We tried several different things and I finally put her on a lose dose of melatonin (1 mg at the most).


Last fall I mentioned it in passing to her pediatrician when we were in there for another reason. He didn't seem happy that I had her on melatonin and said that we would need to schedule another appointment to discuss the problem and perhaps have a sleep study done. I had intended to do that but then she developed another problem. (She had dizziness for weeks). She had to go through a lot of tests for that (brain MRI, echocardiogram, etc.) and we never found out what was wrong with her. It finally went away and the doctors think it was some kind of a virus. At the time I took her off of the melatonin for a few weeks to see if that made a difference in her dizziness. It didn't so I ended up putting her back on the melatonin and she had been on it ever since.


I've read conflicting reports as to whether or not long term melatonin is safe in children so I decided to take her off of it again 2 weeks ago. I was actually going to schedule an appointment with the doctor to discuss it when she got really sick last week. She had some kind of a virus or influenza and was sick in bed all week and ended up losing 7 pounds. She is already very skinny (5 foot 6 and 90 pounds). We are leaving for vacation in 3 weeks and I won't be able to schedule a sleep study until we get back. In addition, my dd is begging me to not make her do the sleep study. It makes her very nervous thinking about having to try to fall asleep in that environment.


So for the past 2 weeks dd has had a horrible time falling asleep and staying asleep. She is lucky if she falls asleep by 2 am and often wakes up in the middle of the night. Needless to say she is exhausted in the morning, especially if I wake her up to do school at 8:00.


I've tried everything I can think of: no caffeine, no video games or tv before bed, listening to quiet music or sound effects or reading a book before bed. I make sure that her room isn't too cold or too warm and that it is dark enough. I've had her try waking up extra early for a week to see if that would reset her clock and make her so tired by bedtime that she would fall asleep. That didn't work. It just made her extremely tired. She's tried having a light snack before bed and drinking milk. She's tried exercising so that she would be tired later in the day, although this is a little more difficult in the winter. I'm sure there are a few more that I haven't listed here.


So I'm trying to decide what to do over the next 3 weeks until we get back from vacation. Then I'm planning on making an appointment with the pediatrician to discuss this and then possibly getting a sleep study done. In the meantime should I just put her back on the melatonin since that seems to help? Should I keep her off the melatonin but let her sleep as late as she needs to in the morning and then just have her do her schoolwork later in the day? For the most part this would work out fine unless we need to go somewhere early. Any other ideas.


My dh and I really think this is affecting her health and personality. She isn't crabby but seems to almost walk around in a daze. For the most part her schoolwork hasn't suffered.

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At a certain point, it's not right for her to have a health problem that is affecting her and her entire family, and then insist on not taking the steps necessary to find out what is causing it. So I would insist on it, but I also would find out if you can stay with her in the room where the do it. My husband had a sleep study done and it was an actual hotel room - just like any other hotel room. Maybe they could do it in a room with 2 beds. That must be possible because my friend's six year old is having a sleep study done, and I know she wouldn't leave her daughter over night!


You asked if you should let her sleep later. I certainly would, but from the sounds of it, she's not ABLE to sleep. If she able to sleep well through the morning hours? I can't tell from your post whether this is about a total inability to get uninterrupted sleep or whether it's just the actual HOURS her body wants to sleep. If she can get the sleep she needs during the morning hours. I would consider just letting her AS LONG AS she's really cooperative about doing all her normal workload at other times.


I do think maybe 1 mg melatonin isn't enough, but I would talk to her doctor about that. I have a very difficult sleep life, and Melatonin really helps, but 1 mg is just as good as not taking it at all.


I also think that vigorous exercise is an absolute daily necessity, winter or not. Join a YMCA and insist that she work out HARD every single day.


ETA here are the things that most help my sleep life (but never totally seem to fix it)




A calcium/Magnesium supplement


Absolutely no light at all in the room including an alarm clock that is lit


Vigorous daily exercise (I am lazy and don't really do this daily, but I can't stress enough that your daughter needs to ignore my example, lol)


Getting up at the same time every day, but not too early because I honestly believe that if you are a night person, your are a night person.


Recently I started reading in bed until I am falling asleep - and I only read fiction or soothing non-fiction.

Edited by Danestress
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Actually, I'm not sure that a sleep study is what I would do at this point. Melatonin is safe, but the concern is if you are on it permanently, you can cause your body to stop producing it naturally. The type of melatonin is important too. Some brands seem to work better than others, at least for me. I believe the recommendation is to go off it for a few days every six weeks or so.


Is it possible that she is just a night owl and is having a hard time sleeping just because it's not her natural sleep cycle time? Could you experiment with letting her stay up until 2 am or so and sleeping until she naturally wakes up for a few days? I know puberty can make even teenagers who are not naturally night owls have a difficult time sleeping until much later, but teens still need almost as much sleep as preschoolers, due to their rapid growth. (TIME had an article on how a genetic basis to night owls and early birds has been found.) I think before I pushed something like a sleep study on her, I would try to figure out a way to experiment with her sleep schedule.


I'd try the melatonin and the calcium/ magnesium supplement and the vigorous daily exercise. But, general work on her overall health would be important.

Edited by Terabith
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My dd is 16 and this has been an issue for a long time. We ruled out health related issues with blood tests etc. You could do the sleep study.


As for my dd, she is a night owl and always has been. From the time she was very young, she came to life at night. I read one time that it has to do with the time of your birth but who knows.


My dd needs more exercise, but like yours she is also very thin too. I think that daily walking etc. is good but hard exercise is not if they are too thin to start with.


If we let her, our dd would stay up til 2a.m. every night. But we don't. So she is in bed by 11 p.m. and then lays there. At least her body is getting rest. If we let her stay up, she would sleep until noon. As it is, I wake her up by 9:30. I figure that once she starts at the Community college and she has to get up at a specific time then eventually her sleep schedule will work out better. Mine does get cranky the later she goes to bed especially if it is several nights in a row. And she complains about not being able to concentrate which I think is due to lack of sleep.


But mine also goes non stop all day. She is just a busy bee. I think she has always had a high metabolism.


I'm sorry that I can not be of much help. We have not given her anything to help her sleep. I have tried meditation and relaxation. I even made a relaxation tape for her. That seemed to help some. Also, this sounds silly but where is her bed in relation to lights from a hallway etc.

I'll be watching this thread for ideas myself. ha




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My #1 answer is a magnesium supplement like Natural Calm brand. She also might need Calcium but she likely needs mainly magnesium if she is getting dietary calcium. I met Dr. Carolyn Dean at a T-Tapp retreat in 2007. She mentioned 2 major things in her talk that affect most women:

1. Candida Overgrowth

2. Magnesium Deficiency


Here is the information on magnesium:


http://www.carolyndean.com/articles_mag_measuring_up.html (click link for pdf article)



Magnesium deficiency triggers or causes the following conditions:






  • Anxiety and Panic attacks- Magnesium (Mg) normally keeps adrenal stress hormones under control.
  • Insomnia- Sleep-regulating melatonin production is disturbed without sufficient Mg.
  • Musculoskeletal conditions- Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramps and chronic neck and back pain may be caused by Mg deficiency and can be relieved with Mg supplements.
  • Nerve problems- Mg alleviates peripheral nerve disturbances throughout the whole body, such as migraines, muscle contractions, gastrointestinal spasms, and calf, foot and toe cramps. It is also used in treating central nervous symptoms of vertigo and confusion.
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology- Mg prevents Premenstrual Syndrome; prevents dysmenorrhea (cramping pain during menses); is important in the treatment of infertility; and alleviates premature contractions, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in pregnancy. Intravenous Mg is given in obstetrical wards for pregnancy-induced hypertension and to lessen the risk of cerebral palsy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Mg should be a required supplement for pregnant mothers.
  • Osteoporosis- Use of calcium with Vitamin D to enhance calcium absorption without a balancing amount of Mg causes further Mg deficiency, which triggers a cascade of events leading to bone loss.
  • Raynaud's Syndrome- Mg helps relax the spastic blood vessels that cause pain and numbness of the fingers.
  • Tooth decay- Mg deficiency causes an unhealthy balance of phosphorus and calcium in saliva, which damages teeth. Material excerpted from Dean, Carolyn. The Miracle of Magnesium (2003 Ballantine Books: New York, NY), 2003. pp. 5-7.
  • More on the website!



I buy magnesium, Natural Calm brand, from Vitacost and take it nightly.


Eat healthy, get plenty of sunshine during the day, and sleep in a dark room with no artifical light. Access to light from the moon is fine as it has been reported to help regulate women's cycles, but no artificial light from inside or outside (no street lights).


The dizziness you described might be caused by Candida Overgrowth. Several people I know both IRL and online who have had Vertigo recently also are struggling with Candida Overgrowth. I had Vertigo for 1 month and I struggle with it Candida too. I am working on following this plan http://www.naturallythriving.com/basics/cfd.php which is based on the Weston A Price Foundation's recommendations but cuts out all sugar and grains.


Yeast and Weight Gain

By Carolyn Dean, MD, ND

If I were to tell you that there is a fungus living in your intestines that produces 180 chemical toxins capable of making you feel dizzy and fatigued, shutting down your thyroid, throwing your hormones off balance, and causing you to crave sugar and alcohol, all of which make you put on weight—would you believe me? You probably wouldn't—few doctors even realize the extent of damage caused by yeast overgrowth but the above scenario is all too true.

To the great detriment of the health of our society, this fungus does exist and it is growing rampant in a large proportion of the population—mostly women. It's one of the diseases of civilization - the culmination of the side effects of technology and the disservices of our way of life. The list of chronic diseases is getting longer and longer: heart disease, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, auto immune disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Chronic yeast overgrowth not only worsens all the above conditions but it's in a whole disease category by itself.


The miracle of antibiotics has its downside because it causes an overgrowth of yeast. The refining of sugar and wheat has its downside by creating a simple food source for yeast. The tremendous levels of stress hormones that flood our bodies daily, hourly, and every minute in our sped up world make us prey to yeast.



Continue reading at this link:



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I would take her to a naturopath. They are more likely to investigate deficiencies in minerals (like magnesium or calcium) or problems like adrenal problems. Try having her take an epsom salt bath at night. That lets magnesium be absorbed directly into her skin and it is soothing as well. Also try a homeopathic remedy called "calms forte" - it helps your body relax. You get it at a health food/vitamin store.

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If your dd is able to sleep in in the mornings, I would let her. Try changing her schedule around and let her sleep in as late as she wants for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference. Maybe letting her get the extra rest will help her body relax enough to stay asleep all night, too. And not having a wake-up deadline to worry about might help take some of the pressure off of falling asleep. I would also let her read in bed, listen to a book on tape or some music if she isn't tired enough to sleep; there is nothing worse than just laying there waiting to fall asleep, IMO. Once she is well rested, then you can try playing with her schedule a little bit. I've been a night owl since high school (or earlier), and it's become easier to deal with now that I only need 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night as opposed to the 10 or more I needed in high school. I can go to bed at midnight or even 1 am and still be up by 8.


:grouphug: I hope you find a solution.

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Thanks for all of the ideas. DD has an appointment with the pediatrician on Thursday. In the meantime I am letting her sleep as late as she needs to and she is doing her schoolwork in the afternoon. I'm thinking about giving her the magnesium. After reading about it I really think that it is a strong possibility that she has a deficiency. She has some of the other symptoms too. I'm wondering if I should hold off until after her appointment on Thursday in case he wants to run some blood tests.


She doesn't seem to be worried about anything and runs a pretty stress free life. She may be a little depressed but I think that is due to her lack of sleep. She is also growing extremely fast and I think she is on the brink of puberty so this may be a factor too.

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