10 Year Old Difficulty Falling Asleep

Updated on May 24, 2010
C.B. asks from unknown city, unknown state
16 answers

Has anyone used lemon balm (called Melissa in Europe) or Valerian root to help a child fall asleep? My mom used to use both and my online search seems to indicate lemon balm is very mild and soothing but Valerian can have side effects. My 10 year old daughter sleeps well but takes a long time to fall asleep (sometimes 2 hours). We have tried all the usual: reading to her (although she reads herself as well), soothing music, rain forest sounds CD, HEPA filter for the fan noise, no sugar after noon, warm milk, warm bath, etc. I am beginning to think she simply only needs 9.5 hours of sleep and perhaps I am putting her in bed too early (about 9-ish, and she falls asleep 10:30 or sometimes 11, occasionally even later). However, I can't help but think that if she could sleep 10 or 11 hours she would be better off. We tried Melatonin which worked great (only 100 micrograms was needed instead of the doctor recommended 3 grams!) but after a week it gives her nightmares. Any advice for herbal remedies since the behavior changes do not seem to help. Thanks.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the answers. We will try to be stricter with her bedtime since it is not consistent (or perhaps I should say consistently sort of late), we will ask her to read in her comfy chair and then move into bed, I read about "snack+snuggle+snooze" so we will give her a light bite to eat, some hugging and then lights out in bed. We have tried the sleepy-time tea but she can power through that it seems, for that reason I was considering something stronger. Her anxiety stems from school since she has just been formally diagnosed with dyslexia and inattention, and we are struggling with the school to get her some help. I will stay away from the Valerian since it can have scary side effects. Caressing her arms and face with a clean make-up brush seems to really relax her, which is fine occasionally, but too much work every night. Thanks all you mamas out there with your good advice.

Featured Answers



answers from Boston on

from the amount you have written I would suggest that you are worried about it. IMO the more you worry about it, the more the problem will continue. I think this is an example of a vicious cycle.


answers from Atlanta on

There is a a lemon based tea at teavana.com that is supposed to be fantastic for sleep. I have only heard of it but not tried it. Best to call the tea store and ask directly.

I do not mean to scare you or open a can of worms however have you assessed for anxiety issues. This age group often has the beginnings of sleep issues that are secondary to some other cause. Just a thought. Please disregard if you have already investigated this.

Best wishes.

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answers from San Francisco on

Your daughters' body is going through a change at this time in her young life. At this point your right, she doesn't need as much sleep as you think she requires'. However, there is a SleepyTyme tea that you can buy at any Health Food store. She is able to drink this at her age. Give it to her about an hour to two hours prior to bedtime and see if this works. It definetly won't hurt her.If you find that she is still not tired then she doesn't need the sleep. Is she active prior to going to bed. Has she lots to do to play her out. If shes' not doing a whole lot after school like chumming with friends and being out in the fresh air then she has nothing to make her sleep. As well when she is having a bath put some Epson Salts into the tub. This is very soothing and may help as well.
I wish you luck, but as I said, she is going through a change and it just may take some time for her to get back on track. I do think though that 8hrs. of sleep is plenty for her at her age. If she appears tired, she will make up for it maybe every second night or on wknds. Take care and don't worry mom, she is a normal child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My daughter is 9 and has recently had some issues also with not being able to sleep and/or sleepwalking. At first we guessed it might be due to some anxiety about things happening at school (anxiety about upcoming tests at school or some issues she and some classmates were having getting along). Just as with babies, sometimes the child can actually be overtired and that makes it harder for them to fall asleep.

When it became a consistent problem I finally called our pediatrician and he had some good advice. One thing we did was to figure out how much sleep a child of her age really needs—it is still an average of 10-12 hours and we were falling short with inconsistent bedtimes and letting her stay up too late to read in her room. She is a kid that needs her sleep (as was evidence by crankiness in the mornings getting ready for school)! She was also reading in her bed which is a no-no (I like to do that too) so we created a reading corner in her room for her to read in and then climb into bed for sleep. We also started being more firm on lights out time and beginning our usual bedtime routine a bit earlier.

Also, we use lavender oil (a blend of lavender essential and sweet almond oil actually) at bedtime. I use it myself and it has seemed to help my daughter as well. We just dab a bit onto our wrists and behind our ears for the aromatherapy benefits. It is a natural alternative and safer than anything taken orally. There is a lot of scientific research too that supports its use to help with insomnia, etc. Just do an online search and you will find lots of articles.

Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

When I went to the yearly check up with my 8 year old, the doctor asked me if he gets at least 9 hours of sleep. I was surprised that he considered 9 hours to be enough, but when I thought about it I realized that my son really only did sleep about 9.5 hours and that he almost never fell asleep right away when I send him to bed around 9. I ended up letting him read for an hour before lights out, that way at least he does something fun instead of just lying there trying to fall asleep. Right now he usually goes to bed between 9 and 9.30 and I let him read till 10. He usually falls asleep between 10 and 10.30 and has to get up at 8 am. At first I felt a bit bad about letting him be up so late, but it has turned out to be a routine that works well for all of us.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

I would see if you can go and see a sleep specialist. She is old enought that perhaps she could do a sleep study. I took my daughter to a sleep dr. last year and I have NO idea what took me so long to do that.. Good luck..
Are you sure the melatonin gave her the nightmares? Is it possible that she was just get good sleep that she might be been having the nightmares?

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answers from Columbus on

How long did you try the melatonin to see if maybe the nighmares would go away? It may be that her deep sleep, and the time she spends asleep just give her the opportunity to dream more. Maybe the recomended 3 grams would keep her from having them? Just a thought, since you found something that worked, I would try to figure out a way to do away with the side effect.




answers from Boston on

Here is a link to an article I read and saved before:


Some interesting things here that may help. It also states that warm milk might actually keep you up rather than help you fall asleep. Also, is she getting enough vitamin D? I have read a lot about vitamin D deficiency and sleeping problems. Google vitamin D and sleep and there is a ton of information about how a lack of Vitamin D can disrupt sleep cycles and your circadian rhythm. The sun helps us produce Vitamin D, but when sunscreen is applied our bodies will not produce it. They say you only need about 10 minutes of mid-day exposure to produce enough for the day. Hope this helps!



answers from Chicago on

Is she having problems in school? Maybe she is thinking too much? I used to read to fall asleep when I was younger. I know as an adult I have trouble falling asleep even though I am tired. Maybe try excercise about 6-7 pm and then a movie/ reading time. and then lights out at 9?



answers from Chicago on

I have always had a hard time falling asleep. I didn't try many things, but my aunt used to swing her leg over the side of the bed...yea did not work for me. Now I'm older, I have my own children and I'm tired but then I get a second wind...almost like I can't fall asleep cause I'll miss something or I don't want to forget to do something tomorrow. I recently have been learning to clear my mind. Really hard for me to do, but if I just continually just think about one thing and only one thing I soon fall asleep and don't even realize it. It's been working for me, maybe it will work for your daughter. Best of Luck.



answers from Redding on

I always had a hard time falling asleep and I still do.
I never gave Valerian root to my kids but took it myself. I stopped taking it because it gave me the worst breath and burps. It didn't help me enough to be worth it.
I started giving my son Sleepy Time tea when he was pretty little. Way younger than 10. He was absolutely convinced that it made you drowsy and sleepy so he would be out in 5 minutes. He's 14 and still drinks it sometimes. I haven't told him that it's just tea. He BELIEVES it will help him sleep so it does.
I don't think you are putting your daughter to bed too early. Even if she isn't falling asleep right away, she is still laying down and resting her little bones.
I taught my children how to use imagery to help them relax and fall asleep.
By 10, they were both pretty good at it. It's a way of shutting off their minds by concentrating on every muscle or part of their bodies relaxing, starting with the toes and working their way up.
Your daughter may be needing a little less sleep right now, but resting her body is still necessary. I can bet that when she gets in her teens, she will sleep an awful lot and you will wonder what's going on.
They still have different sleep patterns affected by their growth spurts so you may still see many changes even in the next few years.
My son is 14 and I tell him he can stay up till 10 on school nights, but he never makes it. On the weekends, he says he's going to stay up late and watch movies....he never makes it.
My daughter could stay up later and in the morning, her feet hit the floor running. Everybody is a little different.
I wouldn't worry about your daughter having a tough time falling asleep as long as she is able to wind down and lay still and she's not crying or freaking out or frustrated about it. There's rest and then there's sleep. If she is able to rest and relax before actually drifting off, I think she's okay.

Best wishes!



answers from Boca Raton on

This may sound nuts but when I go in low carb mode (i.e., no sugar) in the early afternoon for the remainder of the day I am usually wired with energy at night (and I'm NOT a night person).

I'm wondering if she SHOULD have a little carb-ish snack before bed (something relatively healthy of course).

My teen uses the low dose melatonin and doesn't have any issues with it (he's a major night owl and has a hard time getting to sleep). It's too bad that melatonin gives her nightmares though.

Good luck finding a workable solution!


answers from Norfolk on

Chamomile tea can be very relaxing. You might want to make sure she has no caffeine at all or maybe none after noon). Try to make sure she wakes up same time week days and week ends and same with bedtime (to try to keep her on a regular schedule). Try to work in some aerobic exercise during the day (but not close to bed time). I have trouble in the winter if I don't get enough bright light during the day. For some reason a day in the sunshine makes me very tired at night (I always sleep very well after a few hours at the beach). If Melatonin works ( I never heard about nightmares with it before, but everyone is different), use it sparingly maybe once every 2 or 3 days. If you can't find a smaller dosage, maybe you can use a pill slicer (drug stores sell them) to get a smaller amount. Kids will need a little more sleep than usual during a growth spurt.



answers from Sioux Falls on

I would keep her on a schedule, and never have a tv in her room. Her room should be for sleeping. Keep her away from all caffeine, and no food before bedtime. I use a valerian root/passiflora herbal supplement to help with occassional bouts of insomnia. It does help alot, but I would not recommend it for every night use.


answers from Boston on

Be very careful with these things! My friend used something called Rapid Sleep which has valerian root and hops and something else. She thought it was safe because it's "all natural" - but it can cause a precipitous drop in blood pressure. She had what's called a vasovagal synchope which means her BP dropped to zero and she fell on the floor. The ambulance took her to the hospital and after she rested a while, the doctor asked her to sit up on the edge of the bed and it happened again - BP went to zero and her heart stopped. She was transferred to a major hospital and the cardiologist just rolled her eyes when she found out about the valerian root thing. She was a doctor who was open to non-medical solutions, but not that! My friend is doing other things now to prevent this problem from recurring.

I tend to be anti-medication whenever possible, but I think we do a lot of playing around with herbs and natural remedies without knowing what we are doing! We're just not qualified to be "kitchen chemists". We have to remember that a lot of things are natural - like snake venom and toadstools and arsenic - but that doesn't mean they are good for us.

I don't know about lemon balm so I can't help you there.

Most kids don't get enough sleep but it's hard to know if 9.5 hours is enough. How does she seem in the morning? Does she seem tired? Is she anxious about anything? If she sleeps well once she falls asleep, I don't know if a sleep study is in order. I do know (since I have sleep apnea) that once you get into REM sleep (which is essential for restorative purposes) you tend to dream a lot more. That's a good thing. I also have much less problem with sleep issues since I changed my nutrition. Anyway, that may be why she is remembering her dreams. Is she waking up from those nightmares or just telling you about them in the morning? Do you think she is afraid to go to sleep because of them? If so, you can educate her a little about why this is happening - I'm not sure the melatonin caused it so much as let her get into deeper sleep, as another post suggested.

As for bed time, if you put her to bed later, does she still stay awake for 2 hours, or does she fall asleep at 10:30-11 no matter what? If she always falls asleep at the same time, then you've established her natural cycle. IF she stays awake for 2 hours no matter when she starts, then it's more of a behavioral or emotional issue I think.



answers from Cincinnati on

hi -
you're right - 7-12 year olds should get 10-11 hours of sleep (perWeb MD). Some times not having enough iron or magnesium may effect sleep - are her iron levels ok?
Magnesium and calcium need to be taken together

this site gives you other info on vitamin and minerals that help with sleep

fyi - I'd check with the doctor first - you can overdose on some vitamin/minerals.

hope that helps

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