6 Year Old with Sleep Problems... - Orem,UT

Updated on June 26, 2012
A.G. asks from Orem, UT
5 answers

My 6 year old (this would be the one currently being evaluated for sensory processing disorder, ADHD, auditory processing disorder, and possibly aspergers)...has always had sleep problems. For a long time we would put him to bed around 8 (after a regular, simple, nightime routine...warm bath...books...no tv/computers...etc.)...and he would toss and turn sometimes until 11:30 at night. We tried moving the bedtime around to see if he was overtired....no such luck...I tried laying down with him until he fell asleep...I'd fall asleep and wake up at 10-10:30...and he'd still have his eyes wide open.

Eventually his pediatrician recommended a small dose of melatonin (1/2 mg.). I'm not terribly thrilled at the the thought of having to give my child anything on a regular basis to help with sleep...but at this point, the alternative is torturous exhaustion for both he and I. It was working wonderfully...he was falling asleep around 8:30...sleeping until 7:30/8:00 in the morning.

For some reason, this past week he has been waking up regularly at 3-3:30 am...at which point, he can not fall back asleep! SOMETIMES...he'll dose back off for an hour around 7-ish. There was one morning I woke up at 4 and it sounded like there was a party downstairs! He'd turned on all the lights, woken up his two younger brothers, and they were laughing and talking up a storm! I told him after that...that if he couldn't sleep he could not wake anybody else up except me (if he really needed to). If he needed to, he could come up and stay on the couch in our room...but the rest of the family needed sleep! I know if I were to give him another dose of melatonin when he wakes up, he'd be back asleep within 30 minutes. I really don't like the idea, however, of getting into the habit of popping a little tablet everytime he needs to go to sleep :/.

I mentioned it to his pediatrician and was told to give it a little time...since it's only been a little over a week. Maybe it will resolve itself. Thing is, I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant...sleep is a precious commodity! This morning he was good about not waking anybody up...until the sun came up...which, in the summer time, is WAY earlier than I'm up! So...new rule...he has to stay in bed or on the upstairs couch until mom is up. In addition to me turning into an ornery witch over the whole thing...I know he's exhausted. He already struggles...this past week he has been so much more emotional...really struggling to use the coping skills that we try so hard to help him with :/.

Any suggestions?

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So What Happened?

Yes...actually we have tried a later bedtime (I hate trying to go to bed not tired)...especially in the summertime. I've tried bringing him to the park after dinner...to the pool after dinner...things that totally wipe my other kids out! What's really wierd...is that even when he is getting 11 or so hours at night, he is still yawning a lot around dinnertime/bedtime. I can tell he's tired...he tells me he's tired...why he can't fall asleep is so beyond me :/.

I'm hoping it's a phase!!

Oops...just realized I didn't do a very good job separating this into paragraphs...sorry for the long one...I'll go change it :p.

Yup...we've got darkening shades...his room has had them since we moved into this house a year ago :/. Sometimes it seems like whatever mechanism in his body that is responsible for making him fall asleep is broken or something! :p

He is still falling asleep at night just fine (with the melatonin)...it's the waking up at 3 in the morning that's wigging me out :p

More Answers


answers from Grand Forks on

What time does he have to get up? Have you ever considered that 8:00pm might be too early a bedtime for him? Maybe if he were active in the evening he would go to bed and fall asleep at 9:30 or 10:00pm, but because he is going to bed so early he isn't able to fall asleep until 11:30pm.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I don't know all the ins and outs butmaybe it is just a phase and it needs a bit longer then a week to work out. hang in there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

You struggle with creating a habit to "pop a pill" when he can't fall asleep. I understand that. But you also say it seems like whatever mechanism in his body that is responsible for making him fall asleep is broken or something. It may very well be possible that he doesn't make the right chemicals to stay asleep, even though he is tired. And not getting enough sleep could be causing or exacerbating a lot of his problems. So give him another pill for now so you are all getting enough sleep, and then research ways to naturally boost melatonin production. Also teach your child how to go to sleep -- not just "lay there with your eyes wide open". The material in The No Cry Sleep Solution is geared toward helping younger kids (babies and toddlers), but it also has some solid sleep science that is easy to understand and talks about how we fall asleep and stay asleep.

Being married to someone who has a very hard time in the sleep area -- I can tell you for certain that lack of sleep can contribute to so many problems and make some things so much worse. My DH is now on medication that helps with his primary problems -- but a side effect is that it makes him sooooo tired that he can sleep at night. And that sleep helps a lot.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Hello. I would like to say I sympathize with you. My daughter was diagnosed with SPD at three and is now 6 years old. I have struggled with sleep with her pretty much since she was born and I look forward to a life of sleep issues :)

For a long period of time I took responsibility for her sleep. Finally about a year ago I realized that this is not my problem as I can't force her to sleep. I chose to give her power. The power to sleep or stay away. There were a few rules. 8:00 is adult time. You don't have to sleep but you have to be in your room, lights off. I purchased a book like and a night light. If your child is like mine, it takes longer than average to get them to acclimate to a new routine. However after about a week, I didn't hear, but it's not dark, I'm not tired. It was simply in bed, lights out, end of story. Sleep was optional. Low and behold she was falling asleep with in a 1/2 hour.

Same rule applies for dark. My daughter has an occasional 4:00 am wake up. Rule is grab a book, stay in your room. Sleep is optional. Giving her this power has removed all struggles. My telling her she had to sleep was a huge issue for her because sometimes she doesn't want to. However, Mom needs her day to end. This cures all.

Finally, SPD kids are very, very sensitive to their surroundings. My daughter has anxiety over things we do not consider to be an issue. So, when she is "working something out" as we like to say, her sleep pattern is often disrupted because she cannot turn her brain off. Watch for what is going on in your son's life, it can be as simple as an overnight trip or rearranging furniture in the living room. See if his wake ups coincide with these types of things.

I understand your frustration and I promise you have a lot to learn. However as you learn it will get easier. Feel free to contact me off line if you have any other questions. I'm happy to help.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

What about thicker curtains or blinds to keep the room darker?

My son is 10 and has Aspergers/ADHD. Some days he wants to stay up late to catch up on all the eating he didn't do earlier, other days the meds take too long to wear off. During the day, he can't settle down enough to take a nap, even if he got only 6 hours of sleep the night before. Sometimes we give him benadryl before bed(since he needs an allergy med anyway), allow him to sleep in a different bed or move his mattress around in his room, or read a (boring) book.

1 mom found this helpful
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