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10yr old with trouble falling asleep
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10yr old with trouble falling asleep

My son is having alot of problems falling asleep.  He seems to have panic attacks of some sort at night time.  I know NOTHING has happened to him to make him feel this way.  He only sleeps at home not at friends or relatives.  He doesnt like to be away from Mom and Dad at night and when we go out he gives his memes a problem with bed.  He says he just cant fall asleep.  He gets tons of exercise and eats a proper diet.  He also does not have any form of caffaine after 5 oclock.  He says his head just spins and he cant stop it.  He is a honor student and also in the enrichment program.  He is very well behaved.  He enjoys what all kids enjoy and doesnt seem to have problems being away during the day.  He has never been a great sleeper and it has always taken him a while to fall asleep but all of a sudden he panics and gets up to look at the clock and then he panics more.  What could be wrong, and why now.  It is starting to work on my patience..!  I am very understanding but perhaps I have been too understanding because it doesnt seem to be getting any better.
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Dear Debbie,

If you haven't already done so, a necessary first step is to rule out any medical illness or condition that might account for your son's presentation. Chronic ear infections, for example, or vertigo (a feeling that you or the surroundings are moving, when there is no actual movement) can account for what your son is experiencing (at least in relation to the physical sensations). The doctor will need to examine his ears, eyes and function of the nervous system, at the very least.

It's important to rule out organic illness before settling on the explanation of a behavioral or emotional condition.

It could be that your son displays a form of separation anxiety that manifests itself chiefly at bedtime. If so, cognitive-behavioral treatment can be quite effective, with the therapist collaborating with parents around the treatment plan.

You mention that your son does not consume caffeine after 5:00. The fact is, even small or moderate amounts of caffeine, consumed earlier in the day, can interfere with sleep. Many people underestimate the impact of limited amounts of caffeine in people who might be sensitive to the substance.

Be careful about treating the symptoms with preparations of any sort, even over-the-counter remedies. By all means, stay away from OTC sleep preparations. With adults, short-term use can be OK - they should not be used for children. In any case, this is a chronic, not acute problem.

In recent years many people have become fond of herbal or nutritional remedies to sleep problems. Care needs to be taken around these, and too many people are relying on their own opinions or judgement and may be making unwise decisions. There is no reason to be any more casual about herbal or nutritional remedies than you would be about prescription drugs.

One example is the proliferation of the use of melatonin to assist with sleep. Melatonin in its natural form is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland. Small amounts are also found in such foods as meats, grains, fruits and vegetables. It is believed that melatonin is instrumental in the body's 24-hour circadian rhythms, which include sleep patterns.

Remember that melatonin has not been evaluated for safety, effectiveness or purity, and we probably don't yet know it's full benefits or risks, to be frank. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for a compound such as synthetic melatonin, thus a consumer has no way of knowing the actual amount of the ingredient in any particular pill. If the melatonin comes from animal pineal tissue, it carries the risk of contamination or can be the means of transmitting viral material. Certainly children should not be given compounds such as melatonin without consulting with a pediatrician. We know, for example, that a dose of 3.0 mg/day of melatonin may result in a blood melatonin level 30 times the normal melatonin level. So it can be risky business.
6 Comments
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First of all, he could have a melatonin deficiency. I give my son melatonin and it helps him shut off at night, without knocking him out. It is a natural product, something that is already in our bodies. It works wonders, and helps regulate his sleep cycle so that he is more alert and happy during the day. I have heard of the spinning when someone lays down. This could be some sort of vertigo! If you'd like, you can post a message on my message board, and hopefully the person with this same problem can tell you about it.
www.insidetheweb.com/mbs.cgi/mb774491
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I alternate Calms Forte with melatonin.  Melatonin should be used sparingly and not often.  These usually come in 3 mg tablets and 3 mg is much more than you need.  I would cut it in half for a 10 yr old.  I use 1/4 for my 6 yr old.  Calms Forte is all natural and works very well with my son.  Give either one hour before bedtime.  We have the same routine every night too - 15 minutes quiet time, bath, read a story and talk quietly for a few minutes.  A predictable routine and bedtime each night helps too.

I have vertigo and if that is his problem he will not be able to sleep with it.  Does it just happen at night or every time he lays down?  It may be an inner ear problem.  Mine usually occurs when I bend my head to wash my hair, and also when I am sitting at the computer for hours at a time.

Have patience with him.  He cannot help it.  Have him checked by a doctor.  My 6 yr old will not sleep by himself because he has nightmares due to depression.
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Avatar_n_tn
bcollie, why do you say melatonin should be used sparingly? We've been using it for quite some time, almost nightly and are having no problems. What do you know?????
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I've read on a few of the medical info sites that long term use of melatonin can cause hallucinations.  Usually the dosages given are much more than the body produces naturally and that may be the reason.  Some people may be able to take it fine but I guess there is a high enough incidence of this that it is being reported.  Since my son has enough behavorial problems and used to have nightmares, I don't want to add to them - that is why I alternate sleep aids.  I also use 5-HTP but I also have read that should not be used regularly and long term.

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I am having the same problem with my 12 year old. This started quite suddenly, and we assumed that it had something to do with puberty. He will lay in his bed and try to sleep, but when the lights in the rest of the house go out, he totally panics because he thinks that he will be the last one awake. I remember having the same problem when I was a child, so I tend to be fairly patient with the whole thing. I do worry though. Has anyone else had this type of problem?
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