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10 Year Old Takes a Long Time to Fall Asleep

My 10 yr old boy takes a long time to fall asleep yet we have to wake him up in the morning so it is not as if I am trying to get him to sleep too early.We do calm things down fairly early but it does not seem to make a difference.Any ideas?
Question number two is that he has been sleeping until now in a bed with my husband and daughter(too much squirming for me!).Recently we changed all of this and my daughter is sleeping fine on her own.But my son is really trained to having an adult body sleeping next to him as part of his comforting mechanism...any ideas on helping him switch to self soothing and falling asleep on his own? It did take him a long time to fall asleep in the family bed,tho,so I don't think this has changed cause now he is going to bed on his own.

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Hello everyone,
I just wanted to say thank you.I have not yet begun to put any of the advice I received in place but I am very touched by all the thoughtful responses.It's lovely to have your ideas and experiential information but even more lovely to feel the sweetness and strength of your support. My hat is off to all mamas out there ....you do rock!

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Please call my wife, we have copies of a great book called "What I wish I knew when my kids were young." We give them away to those who want them. Rick and A. ###-###-####

Hi P.-

Have you tried having him read for a bit in bed before he goes to sleep? Or maybe listening to some quiet music as he falls asleep? Both these things seemed to help my kids.

hope this helps-

More Answers

We've had to ask our pediatrician for help with bedtime issues, and her advice might help you with your first question. She said that our bodies need to learn that "bed" means "sleep" and it was actually counter-productive to just try to put my children to bed early when they would just lie there and take forever to go to sleep. We needed a plan to re-adjust our sleep schedules. She said that we should start by figuring out when our children tend to fall asleep (say, 10:30 pm), and then put them to bed no earlier than 15 minutes before that (10:15). If they stayed awake more than 15 minutes in bed, then it was too early.

After several nights of this later bedtime, so that they started to become accustomed to falling alseep in bed, then we could start moving bedtime up by about 15 minutes at a time, until we were at a more reasonable time (like 8:30 or 9:00). (This was matched with an set time to get up in the morning also, that we slowly moved earlier--the kids had been getting up too late also.) We tried this and it worked for us. Within a few weeks, we saw much improvement.

As for your second question, I'm not sure what to say about that, since a 10-year-old would seem to be plenty big enough to sleep on his own, or at least big enough to reason with about it. Maybe you could try a body pillow for him.
Good luck with it all.

1 mom found this helpful

We have a couple of wonderful tapes/CDs narrated by Jim Weiss that are beautiful stories that are almost visualizations that lead the listener into a calm, safe, cozy and sleepy state. One is called, "Good Night" and another is "Sweet Dreams". They are not too young for a 10 year old (or even for me!) and my daughter (now 11) still puts on the same tape night after night. There are six stories on each CD, each story ending in some calming music and then silence for awhile before the next one starts. And they are such beautifully woven stories (The Forest Cottage, The Toy Shop, Day on the Farm, The Desert Cove...) that one cannot help but be drawn in to another world. The boom box is right next to her bed and she is usually asleep before the first story is over. They can be purchased online, at children's bookstores or through the Chinaberry catalogue (Google it).

1 mom found this helpful

Hi P.,
My daughter had the same issues. We read to her at night in her bed and then we'd be soooo tired we'd end up falling sleep in there with her. It's cozy but we were creating a habit that was difficult to undo. What we do now is we go in and snuggle with her and say our good-nights and let her read herself to sleep. One of us goes in later and switches off the light and puts the bookmark in and pulls the book from her sleepy hands. If your son likes to read it might work for him. Our daughter is an avid reader and we have to often go in and tell her OK time to wrap it up. And she's out like a light on her own.
L. V.
Sonoma (50 years May 30th!)

You might try a body pillow? Same length as a person.

Lots of good advice already. I just wanted to add that my 10-year old son seems to fall asleep easier when he has the white noise of a fan or humidifier in his room. Often, he likes to get under a really warm blanket and let the fan blow on his face. That would drive me nuts, but it works for him.

What if you bought him one of those body pillows? That might just do the trick.


Hmmmm, this is why we ended the family bed when the kids were toddlers...

Does reading or listening to soft music help your son? Maybe a white noise machine? And I'd also recommend perhaps a full body pillow that he can hug. Good luck.

Hi P.:

1. Talk to your pediatrition for answers first. Get him a physical (check thyroid, blood work, etc)
2. Talk to a nutritionist and be sure to take away sugar, fake sugar (still stimulates), chocolate of any kind (hot chocolate too). Food is our medicine.
3. Be in agreement with husband and rest of the family that no t.v. programs or fast music playing or computer games for him first 2 hours before bedtime. Have a family meeting once a week to discuss issues, stress, let kids speak freely and this helps keep everyone on the same track.
4. Run him ragged during the day (not with errands) with a sport, swimming, trampoline (physical).
5 Be sure he is getting a b complex sufficient vitamen (for nerves)
6 Massage or slowly lightly scratch his back only in his new bad and make special things that only happen in his new bed (maybe even let him choose one of those bed toppers like memory foam or egg crate. Make his bed and his space to his liking.
7. Don't hurry him around all day ( we are all so busy) and expect him to learn to go slow.
8. Make his room special for him with no stimulating picture (relaxing nature), etc.

9. Does he have sensory inhibition dysfunction ( can't' stand the seams in his socks or jeans, does not like the back of head touched, hyper, bumps into other children for stimulus, has some social skill problems ? Read "The Out of Sync Child" this was my daughter now a teen. Seams don't hurt but they overstimulate the nervous system and cause anxiety (like scratching a chalk board). Some doctors don't know about this but very common with in autistic kids but now in non autistic kids too.

Good Luck Sweetie

10. Stay calm yourself

Your 10 year old is too old to be sleeping in the bed with anyone, he's much too old. The 6 year old I can understand if you're keeping her in there just for a little until she falls asleep then you take her to her room but she as well needs to be in her own bed, your bed and room is for you and your husband and should not be taken advantage of by anyone. I didn't read anything about a set bedtime, all children needs a least 9 hours of sleep so they'll be able to function well in school and if it's hard for your son to fall asleep then he will need to be in the bedroon at least 30 mintues prior to his bedtime. He might need some soothing music or you can have him read a story to his younger sibling every night it'll help his brain to relax as well. It's very important that you get a schedule for them and keep it, your husband and you need that time for each other. I know you can enjoy your kids and husband with a flexible schedule and by making sure your kids understand the importance of it, start now before it gets more out of hand.I wish you the best in everything and you really sound like you're a wonderful mother.

Dear P.,
Not all kids, or adults for that matter, are "out like a light" the minute they hit the sheets. I used to do a lot of visualization with my daughter. I had her lay still and close her eyes and I would ask her to imagine laying still in a warm sunny meadow, etc. Konked her out everytime and I found that she also had pleasant dreams, if she dreamed at all. She slept really well. There are tapes and CD's that you can buy that are very soothing. Some just have tranquil sounds of nature. One kid may not be able to sleep with any noise at all while another may not be able to sleep if things are too quiet. But definitely try the visualization technique because as my daughter got older or she was staying at someone else's house, she could it herself. But it was always about seeing herself lying still somewhere warm and feeling the warmth of the sun on her hair and her cheeks. I started at the top of her head and went to to tips of her toes. Throwing in a little butterfly flitting around or a gentle breeze once in a while. It worked great for her.
The other idea is to get your son a body pillow. They put them on sale at Mervyn's all the time for about $10. The pillow cases come in all colors. Everyone in my family has one. They are approximately 4 feet long and instead of him laying his head on it, he can lay it alongside his body and snuggle it. You could even get some permanent markers and let him decorate the pillow case with a crescent moon and stars or draw each member of the family. Whatever makes him comfy to cuddle with. I think it might really help.

Sweet dreams!

Hi P.-

Have you tried having him read for a bit in bed before he goes to sleep? Or maybe listening to some quiet music as he falls asleep? Both these things seemed to help my kids.

hope this helps-

YOU may want to try getting him a very large pillow to sleep with as this will fill empty space in his bed and give him a feeling of something touching him as he may be a bit to old for a stuffed animal?

Hi P.!

I am the mother of 2 boys. I allowed my boys to sleep with me whenever they wanted as babies, and as young boys. It does take alot of patience to sleep with your kids. Their little arms and legs seem to have no control where they land at night....OUCH! They are now 5 and 11, and sleep in their own rooms. My 5 yr old will stay up as long as I let him right now, just like my older son did at his age. He will even occassionally climb in bed with me. I let him, but I move him now back to his own bed after he's fallen asleep. He'll stay there now, where as he used to come back several times.

A few years ago I did the unthinkable......I put TV's in their rooms :o) Yep, I allowed them to watch a short program when they got in bed. Not a cable program, but a DVD or a VHS movie. Something I could control the length of time they watched their program.

To this day, I am VERY strict about bedtime....Our bedtime is no later than 8:15pm. I allow small drinks and a simple snack while they lay there. And yes, I allow the TV to be on for them. I also lay in bed at the same time, watching TV in our room. For some reason, if I "go to bed" with them at the same time, then it's easier for them to fall asleep faster. They are routinely sound asleep by 9pm like clockwork! Their bodies have simply adjusted to it. My 11 yr old is now "mature" enough to shut his own TV off before he falls asleep, so i have switched to letting him watch Nick at Nite or something. But my little one still falls asleep with the TV on, so the program length has to be controlled. I mean, I can't let him watch the 2 1/2 hour long CARS movie!!!!

Call me crazy, but it works for us. My boys are rested and awake up by 6:45am without an alarm clock. Of course other things had to change along the way. Our biggest meal is after school now, by 4pm.....basically it's our dinner, instead of at 7pm. This way, they can still have a "snack" before bed as late as 8pm. It works for our Sports routines, and our bath/shower routines. It also works for my husband and I. We can FINALLY have uninterrupted time at 9pm....that is...if I don't fall asleep too :o)

I know my experience is against most "mom rules". But, I have always unwinded in front of the TV as a teenager, and as an adult.....why can't my kids do the same?

Good Luck to you and your boy.

:o) N.

My 9 year old son has been having the same problem. I have been careful about avoiding caffeine for him. At 8:30, he takes a shower (most days). By 9, he has to be in bed but he can read for a little while (using a reading light, not the overhead light). By 9:30, lights out. He has still been awake at 10 or even 11 on occaision and is then tired in the morning, but this has been happening less and less. I've also noticed that lots of exercise during the day helps.

Please call my wife, we have copies of a great book called "What I wish I knew when my kids were young." We give them away to those who want them. Rick and A. ###-###-####

Im not sure if this will help but I let my son read a book for like 10 min in bed before I turn out the light and also he had a hard time staying asleep because he was used to sleeping in bed with us as well so to fix that I bought him a body pillow and extra pillows to surround him in to make him feel close to something. It seemed to help alot!

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