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Sleep and 6 year old. Desperate for help

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#1 Lucla

Posted 08 September 2019 - 02:40 AM

I don’t know where to start here and this will probably be long but Im so far beyond desperate for help I’m lost.

My 6 year old has never been a good sleeper, from a baby she has needed one of us to go to sleep and would wake several times each night and need us to go back to sleep, it was never a quick resettle either. This has gone on for 6 years, she has seen doctors, paediatricians, we went to 3 sleep  schools when she was younger and had a sleep specialist come out. Nothing has worked. There is nothing medically wrong with her.

Then, earlier this year we had a breakthrough, she was able to get herself off to sleep and if she woke up we would take her back to her bed, give her a quick cuddle and she would go back to sleep by herself. One wake up a night we were in heaven.

It’s all turned on it’s head in the last 6-8 weeks and all that good sleep my dh and I were getting is a distant memory, our daughter is up several times during the night and for hours at a time. She cries if we try and leave her in her room to sleep and loudly which then wakes up our 4 year old son who sleeps very well so the whole house is exhausted. .

She is scared and I don’t know what of, she doesn’t know either really, she says she is scared of having bad dreams but can’t even really tell us what she dreams of.

She hears a tiny noise like the cat moving around the house or a car driving past and she is awake. She bolts down to our bedroom so fast because she is terrified. We have night lights on throughout the house. In her room, she has a nightlight, she has some gentle meditation type music playing to try and block out any noise and I have even added a diffuser with some essential oil to try to help her relax.  Last year we tried Melatonin and that did absolutely nothing as well.

We cannot have her sleep in our bed, she is just terrible to sleep with, she tosses and turns, she gets hot and kicks the blankets off everyone it’s just horrible sleep for everyone but her.

So currently I’m resettling my son because her crying and delay tactics have woken him up listening to my husband who is currently pleading with her to go to sleep (she has been up 2.5 hours this time)

If we try and sit with her until she sleeps she will go to sleep but the minute we try and get up to go back to sleep she is awake, we don’t even get out of her room before she wakes she is sleeping so lightly.

She is first year of school and from all accounts from the teacher she has settled very well, she has lots of friends is learning well and happily goes each day.

In the last few months there have been no major changes in our home either.

Help please, the gp we saw last week just suggested everything we are already doing and then said just see how you go. I don’t know what to do next and I’m desperate for sleep as is my husband.

Thank you if you read all of this!

Edited by Lucla, 08 September 2019 - 02:43 AM.

#2 MakesMeHappy

Posted 08 September 2019 - 02:51 AM

Oh dear! That sounds exhausting. I don’t have any magical advice, our terrible sleeper DS2 now sleeps well with melatonin.

Our Paed did suggest for DS1 at one stage to use Valergan (not phenergan) this is a pharmacy medication. He suggested we use it for a week to help DS reset his sleep and get his body sleeping through the night. Maybe you could ask your GP/Paed if this might help your daughter.

Does she just want to be close to you? Have you tried setting up a bed for her in your room?

#3 SplashingRainbows

Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:24 AM

It is normal around 5-6 to get scared of things in the night. I’m sad for you that it’s triggered her waking again. Sleep deprivation is the pits.

My comments
1 is she actually suffering anxiety? I think it’s a distinct possibility, and I’d be following that up.
2 what’s her diet and daily activity like?
3 is there a possibility of buying a queen bed for her room and one of you sleeping with her for now. Or two singles with two sets of sheets? If you have to live it would that make it more palatable?
4 what worked before to get things to improve?

#4 Lucla

Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:25 AM

Thanks so so much for reading and for your reply, we have tried Vallergan last year. It helps her sleep, she only wakes once or twice a night for.a short time but as soon as stops it we are back to the same routine.  We even went to the chemist last week to get Vallergan to get some respite as ours had past it’s use by date and they told us they weren’t making Vallergan anymore.

A bed for her in our room is probably the only thing we haven’t tried, I’ll talk to my husband in the morning about it.

I managed to resettle my son, then went to give my dh a break from trying to settle our daughter and my son has woken again because of the noise. I think I’ve had an hours sleep so far tonight and I don’t think my husband has had any yet because she started waking before he went to sleep.

Edited by Lucla, 08 September 2019 - 07:18 AM.

#5 Islander

Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:37 AM

I also wonder if a mattress on the floor (you in hers, or her in your room) would be a good plan for a week to help reset sleep and her confidence in sleeping. Would white noise or music help drown out other noises that are waking her? Have you practiced relaxation with her? My daughter who was a rubbish sleeper had a strong belief (that I’d reinforced massively) that her sleep was a problem and that she wasn’t good st sleeping, but when we taught her “whole body relaxation” and told her there was no need to sleep st night, she could just ‘relax’ then she was able to drop the sleep anxiety and actually sleep. Worth a try?

#6 Lucy30

Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:39 AM

I was a terrified child and really struggled with fear when going to sleep. As a result no one got any sleep. I'm now 38 and still get so scared at night when I'm on my own.

Might a child psychologist be a good place to start to help her unpack her fears? Mine stemmed from a trauma that happened when I was 2 and I'm seeing a psychologist now who has helped me so much. I still have a way to go but my DH and DDs went away last week and I was on my own and handled it so much better having had the help I've had with the psychologist. My point is that if something has triggered fear in her (even if it's something that may seem trivial to you) and it's having this much impact on her it may be worth tackling that rather than going down the medical route as you know she is capable of sleeping well as she managed it for a while and you've had Drs saying there is nothing medically wrong with her. Just a thought - good luck. There is nothing harder than a child that doesn't sleep (I've been there with mine albeit briefly) and it was sheer hell so I feel to you.

#7 Lucla

Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:42 AM

Splashing rainbows thank you also for your reply. She has a double bed in her room, she is just terrible to sleep with and I used to sleep with her but we would be up most of the night anyways trying to sleep, I might have to go back to doing that (DH can’t as he has sleep apnoea and is on a cpap) as atleqst she would sleep.

I suffer anxiety so it’s possible she does too. Is it possible to only have anxiety at night? During the day she is a happy easy going child, at night she is just scared

Her diet is good I think, she eats most of what we eat (she tries to avoid her veggies like most kids but will have some) she has the occasional treat, a lollypop today that her grandmother gave her for example.  She is dairy intolerant but we substitue her food so thats no real issue.

At school she is running around and playing and on the weekends we try to take the kids out both days if we can as they get bored at home. Today we had a birthday at a restaurant with a park and she had a good 2 hours playing.

We have a good nighttime routine too and she falls asleep very quickly at night around 7.30.

When her sleep was good earlier in the year I don’t exactly know what we did, her sleep seemed to be improving and she didn’t seem scared at all and so one night we suggested that she could try to go to sleep with one of us sitting in her room but not laying down with her and she was happy to try and she did it, she was then so proud of herself she was just able to put herself off to sleep. I don’t know how or why it’s changed back again now but it’s probably worse than it was before.

#8 Lucla

Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:47 AM

Islander, we do have music going in her room at night to help with the noise, when she was sleeping really welll she would wake up and turn it on or change the music if she didn’t like what was playing and put herself back to sleep, the music really seemed to help her, now it’s making no difference.

Lucy, I have booked another gp appointment with her for today and I’ll ask about a referral

#9 Sweet.Pea

Posted 08 September 2019 - 05:51 AM

Could you try a pregnancy pillow? Give her the illusion that there is safety?

#10 SplashingRainbows

Posted 08 September 2019 - 06:15 AM

I really do think anxiety is a possibility and a child psych would be helpful.

If self settling is the issue, sticker charts may help? If you haven’t already. Sticker for putting self to bed at night. Sticker for staying in bed all night etc. are you letting her put herself to bed at night at the moment? That would be a good place to start.

However if she is genuinely scared, I’d do the sticker for going to bed herself only as you don’t want to reward that she can’t come to you if she’s afraid. It may be though that if she wakes you she gets a sticker for going back to bed with you very quietly and not waking the family etc.

Sticker charts are gold with my kids.

Edited by SplashingRainbows, 08 September 2019 - 06:16 AM.

#11 3babygirls

Posted 08 September 2019 - 06:37 AM

It sounds like you guys are doing it really tough.

I don't really have any suggestions, other than what about having her brother share a room with her? Would having him in the same room bring her any comfort? Obviously you don't want to disrupt his sleep, but it sounds like it's already happening.

Hang in there, I really feel for you guys and hope things improve soon. x

It sounds like you guys are doing it really tough.

I don't really have any suggestions, other than what about having her brother share a room with her? Would having him in the same room bring her any comfort? Obviously you don't want to disrupt his sleep, but it sounds like it's already happening.

Hang in there, I really feel for you guys and hope things improve soon. x

#12 Grassisgreen

Posted 08 September 2019 - 07:36 AM

I would put a mattress on the floor next to your bed. Not ideal, but if you all get sleep it might be worth it.

#13 eigne

Posted 08 September 2019 - 07:41 AM

That sounds so tough OP. I can hear how desperate you are. I have no experience in this area but I used to be a poor sleeper and I found listening to audio books better than music as a distraction. I still do! Maybe this is something you could try?

#14 *Arabella*

Posted 08 September 2019 - 07:41 AM

That sounds so tough. I think talking to a GP about possible anxiety in your DD couldn't hurt.

You've probably tried almost everything, but just in case, one of the things that works well for us is to have a trundle in my son's room, as I can be close to him while still having a separate sleep place. If I get into him quickly (we still have the baby monitor to hear him) we both get back to sleep more easily. We often put a fan on for him too, he likes the air flow and white noise. My husband and I alternate nights too so at worst we can sleep well every second night. Once one parent gets up the fan goes on in our room to block out noise.

I hope you all get some sleep soon.

#15 Baily

Posted 08 September 2019 - 07:50 AM

My daughter also had sleep problems, on and off for years. We had improvement when we moved a single bed into our room. She had a bed in her room and a bed in ours. She eventually went back to her room  on her own and now sleeps really well. Good luck it’s hard when they have sleep problems

#16 NeedSleepNow

Posted 08 September 2019 - 07:58 AM

Sorry sleep is so hard OP, that sounds really similar to what we went through with DS. When we were at the end of our tether I insisted on a referral to an ENT, who said there was a reasonable chance the restless sleep and issues were due to his tonsils, as it’s a sign of the body not getting enough air. I was a tad worried and sceptical, but 2 nights post surgery he was in my bed, and I realised I’d never truly seen him sleep peacefully before. We haven’t looked back, it really changed our lives 2 years ago. When we went to the follow-up and were asked about sleep, the ENT was like ‘it’s improved because he can now breathe properly’. He did mention it’s something that is often missed by sleep studies/specialists.

In the meantime for survival I’d put a mattress in your room for her, and try white noise so you can’t hear her thrashing around, plus white noise in her brother’s room so he gets a good night sleep!

#17 tinselfoil hat

Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:04 AM

Wow that sounds so tough :( have you considered food intolerances? Sorry if this is stating the obvious but healthy things like fruit and veg can be a problem for some people


#18 Ayr

Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:27 AM

My daughter was the same bad sleeper from birth. Scared of "sounds", dreams etc she does have anxiety severely too. And she was 6 when we made the decision to try melatonin chew for kids from iherb. It worked well and we saw a paediatrician recently who recommended we up it to 5mg slow release since it helped her get to sleep but she still woke early. She told us to continue getting it from iherb because it's cheaper.

Maybe speak to the Dr or a paediatrician about something like that. It's been a lifesaver for us. Now instead of resisting bed time and dragging it out until midnight, she is asking to go to bed by 7pm because she's so tired.

It is really hard when they don't sleep at night hard for them and us as parents. I found it draining.

Edited by Ayr, 08 September 2019 - 09:28 AM.

#19 Lifesgood

Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:35 AM

I would add my vote for a referral to a child-specialist counsellor/pyschologist. ETA: actually I don't think you need a referral, but you need to find the right kind of counsellor. Our GP gave us the details of an excellent child and family counsellor when our DD was having strange sleep disturbances.

It is normal for kids that age to have disrupted sleep/nightmares/fears but in your circumstances it might be helpful to speak to an expert as your DD has a long history of problematic sleep.

Sorry for your struggles OP, I feel for you.

Also agree with the trundle bed or separate mattress in the same room in the interim - it can be hard to share a double bed with a squirming child.

Edited by Lifesgood, 08 September 2019 - 09:37 AM.

#20 SplashingRainbows

Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:00 AM

What a great post NeedSleepNow. Lots of great info there.

#21 littlepickle

Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:06 AM

This was me as a child except I just lay in bed in complete and total fear... when my youngest went through a period like this I just put a small mattress on the floor in our room and asked that he bring his pillow and blankets with him. That way he got the reassurance of being with us but was not in our bed. From the ages of 4-8 he asked to share a room with his sister at night time ( just used a trundle bed) he verbalised that it wasn’t fair that I got to share a bed with DH but he was expected to sleep on his own.
Good luck

#22 Ellie bean

Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:23 AM

I really feel for you OP. Pps have great advice, I just wanted to say if it helps in the meantime while you’re getting medical advice,  we have a mattress on our floor for 6yo do, he comes in at some point every night, we find that much better than the musical beds we were doing before, I think it’s way more common than you would think.

#23 Ellie bean

Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:26 AM

View Postlittlepickle, on 08 September 2019 - 10:06 AM, said:

From the ages of 4-8 he asked to share a room with his sister at night time ( just used a trundle bed) he verbalised that it wasn’t fair that I got to share a bed with DH but he was expected to sleep on his own.
Good luck
Ds says this too, broke my heart, he cried and said he’s getting married so he doesn’t have to be lonely at night! His big sister refuses to share with him, hence the bed on our floor- we have it made up with doona and pillow so he just brings himself and his toy. I can’t have him in the bed with me too much as he pushes me off the edge and I get no sleep.

#24 Gudrun

Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:54 AM

Interesting that she is still getting enough sleep to function well during the day.  So one aspect of this might be that she doesn't need much sleep so is at a loss when she is awake during the night and there's nothing doing so gets anxious.

I know what I would do in desperation; I'd put her in with a TV down low with acceptable stuff on in a corner as well as other bed options if needed.

Edited by Gudrun, 08 September 2019 - 10:56 AM.

#25 Fizgig

Posted 08 September 2019 - 11:09 AM

You have my sympathy. My six year old is very similar except that she is easy to co-sleep with and so that is what we do. My DD was born anxious. A Velcro baby who could only sleep if she was touching me. I moved her into her own bed in her own room at 5 but I slept on the floor on a mattress. The first night she woke 3 times and a lot of nights she ended up on the floor with me. I eventually gave up and went back to the big bed as there wasn’t room for the two of us on my little mattress. We moved house and she really wanted her own room. I said that if she could sleep in there by herself for seven nights in a row it was hers. She never got there. She would wake 1-2 times a night and either join me or I would join her. I gave up again and my next strategy is to get a bunk with a double on the bottom and have both my girls sleep there together as they both seem to just need to feel someone else during the night.

I agree with PPs that a mattress on your floor is a good compromise. I would check with ENT just to rule that out as the restlessness sounds unusual. Mine also has bad dreams and shouts out in her sleep. Lots of great strategies out there to deal these concerns. A few things to google: guided realaxation for children, sleep meditations for children, and the raising children network has some really great info on anxiety in children.

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