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Can puberty = insomnia + boredom?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

My eldest has always had trouble sleeping (since birth!) and has generally held a late-onset-style sleep disorder schedule. From age 6 onwards he'd fall asleep at 10 or later, when his peers fell asleep at 7 or 8. For about a year (age 8) he took melatonin, which helped immensely, he slept easily and woke up happy and well-rested. But melatonin suppresses puberty, so we stopped that, his own choice, over a year ago. Now he is up until midnight, having been in bed since 8:30-9pm. He tries to read, draw, he'll lie here in the dark for hours, nothing. He's more emotional, feeling attacked by my regular tone of voice (yes, I DO sound cranky, but I've always sounded cranky). He cannot think of any way to spend his time; past interests (reading, drawing, chess, lego, etc) hold no interest for him, and he doesn't have any new ideas or interests to pursue. He's like a boat lost at sea.


IMO sleep is crucial, vital to your growth and immune function. He'll fall asleep around midnight and wake between 9-10. I cannot shift that back, even if I wake him early (for soccer on weekends) he's still up until 11-12. I feel like I'm not doing 'right' by him because something is off and I can't figure it out.


He does not eat loads of sugar or even drink juice, He gets exercise. He does not respond well to relaxing herbs (they excite him).


Did your pre-teen (he'll be 10 in a month) develop insomina, boredom and despair? Help!

post #2 of 12

Never heard of such sleep-problem... What have your GP said about it? How was it diagnosed?


What worries me is that "boredom" you mentioned. Most of his peers are full of energy, trying different things, playing all the time. Is he tired when he wakes up? Or he's full of energy etc?

If not bothered, what is his sleep routine? How long does he sleep if not woken up? Is he forced to stay in bed at evenings, or he chooses to?

post #3 of 12

I'm interested in your source for saying that melatonin suppresses puberty?  I haven't heard that, nor has that been our experience, so I'd love more info.


Certainly lack of sleep can deeply affect the emotional and physical well being of children, and add in changing bodies, hormones, etc.-you've got a lot going on there.  The despair that you reference would concern me a lot.  I would talk w/your son's doctor and see if you could start to eval what may be sleep issues and what might be looking like depression, if this continues.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

hi again. First, I'm not at all concerned re; depression. Other peers his age are going through a similar lack of interests thing, and older kids mother's have told me they come out of around 11.5-12. But it's hard for him (and me) to deal with each day.


Delayed-onset sleep disorder is characterised by an inability to fall asleep at the culturally normal time, but to fall asleep 2-3 hours layter, and meed to wke 2-3 hours later. I had this as a kid as well, and lay in bed from 7:30-11:30 every night, never finding sleep. That's why we decided to try melatonin, as we knew this was his pattern, we'd watched it for years, and it was directly from me, who can recall the boredom of lying in bed. if not 'forced' to stay in bed, he'd be up, reading, building, whatever (wanting to be with us adults, even if we're doing super boring things, which we mostly are!) and not go to bed until we did.


Melatonin does supress puberty. We make it in the biggest amounts ever as babies/kids, then between 6-10 years old it suddenly drops to a much lower level, and it is that drop that initiates puberty. People with delayed-sleep onset produce less melatonin and have it drop sooner, which also means earlier puberty (I was 9). melatonin production is triggered by dark and turned off by light, so staying up/gaming/tv/right lights all discourage production. similarily, truly blind children (who see no light at all) are most often late bloomers, same with Inuit children, because they experienced prolonged darkness, thus increased melatonin. I've read a lot about this as sleep has always ben such an issue for me.



Anyway, I was just curious if other children started sleeping less as a 'sign' of puberty. the same thing is happening to my son's best friend (ditto the boredom and tears) and it's not a possible developmental sign discussed often.

post #5 of 12

If he were a teenager, I'd say it was pretty normal. Teenagers in the throws of puberty do go through a stage where their natural body rythyms have them falling asleep later and waking later in the morning. My own teen is going through this now.This is why there is such a push to get high schools to start later. However, you DS is only 9. He's not even a tween yet and puberty doesn't typically start for boys for a few years.


It sounds like he's homeschooling since he's waking between 9 and 10. If that is the case, I reccomend not having him toss and turn in bed for hours when you know he can't sleep. I go though insomnia stages and the one thing I learned is that if I'm not asleep in 15 minutes, I need to get up and do something then try again in an hour. Rolling around in bed, even reading a book in bed doesn't help... in fact, it makes it worse because my mind starts racing. I have to LEAVE bed and physically do something that takes concentration. If he's not on a schedule that enforces him to wake early, I might give him a much later bedtime and let him sleep on his own schedule. He's still getting 9 to 10 hours of sleep which is reccomended for his age.


My youngest (newly 10) had lots sleep issues as an infant through preschooler but what helped was starting a daily school schedule really. It took some time but he did adapt to going to bed at 9 and waking at 7. Have you tried several weeks of waking him early on a daily basis. It's not enough to try it on a weekend. If can take a couple weeks to reset your internal clock.


It couldn't hurt to talk to a doctor. I know a Zinc deficiancy can cause sleep disorders. I know families that use Magnesium supplements with their sleepless kids with great results. Melatonin isn't the only supplement available.

post #6 of 12

OP, you mentioned "despair" in your last sentence, so that's what prompted my question about depression.  I guess I'm not sure what you mean by despair, or what type of behavior leads you to that description.  In any case, I would certainly talk with a doctor.  My child's puberty experience has been characterized by needing more sleep, esp. during growth spurts, not less.  I see interests changing, friendships shifting, some sense of being at loose ends occasionally, but not boredom.  More like a shifting of gears into older sorts of interests.


Your ds is young, although puberty can sometimes occur earlier in certain kids.  I am not sure I would characterize what he's going through as part of puberty though.  FWIW, we have used melatonin w/no issues related to puberty.  

post #7 of 12

I am scratching my head a little...  midnight to 9 or 10 sounds like a fairly normal amount of sleep to me for his age.  


Maybe he is just a night owl?  My oldest has always been a night owl.  It is worse now that he is a teen.


I would certainly let you your DS stay up until he is sleepier before going to bed...you do not want him associating his bed as a place where you don't sleep.


You have another thread in another forum where you express concern over his boredom - yet you also underline all the stuff he is doing.  You seem kind of anxious and I am not sure why.  Does he seem unhappy to you or are you the one who is worried/anxious?  What are your concerns and have you spoken to him about them?


Could he be affected by lack of sunlight?  I know Victoria a bit, and SAD is an issue there for numerous people.


post #8 of 12

 I am really confused as to why you think something is up with his sleep?  You say he's getting 9 to 10 hours of sleep.  That sounds like a perfectly acceptable, perhaps even slightly above average amount of sleep.  I only need 5 to 6 hours of sleep each night.  If I get more, I actually wake up MORE tired.  My DH on the other hand, needs 10 to 12 hours. 


post #9 of 12

It sounds like he is actually getting enough sleep, just not the hours you would prefer.  I have found with dd that to re-set dd's clock I need to start by changing the time she wakes up.  Figure out the time you would like him up for your lifestyle and wake him up.  Don't allow naps during the transition time.  Also if his schedule allows for it I would try to find some good physical activity in the afternoon.  I few days of early mornings should trigger earlier evenings.  Expect the transition time/not enough sleep time to be a grumpy time.


I assume since he is able to sleep so late that you are homeschoolers?  The reason I ask is that for most pre-teens I know boredom is more about lack of peer time, not lack of things to do.  I may be projecting, because I find as a homeschooler that I need to put as much time into finding social opportunities for dd as I do into planning educational activities.  If he is a schooler, I would say that many school kids I have met, don't know how to spend un-structured time and boredom is a necessary step for them to figure out what to do with themselves. 

post #10 of 12

ROTFLMAO.gifdid u no that acually boys get pubuty at 12 and girls 10 not the other way arond

post #11 of 12
Originally Posted by happydays View Post

ROTFLMAO.gifdid u no that acually boys get pubuty at 12 and girls 10 not the other way arond

Did you know that puberty comes at different times for every person? Someone might start at 8 and their sibling might start at 14.

post #12 of 12
Originally Posted by happydays View Post

ROTFLMAO.gifdid u no that acually boys get pubuty at 12 and girls 10 not the other way arond

Hey Happydays, did you know this thread is more than two  months old?  Hahaha! Crazy, huh?   I see this is your very first post with MDC.  Great to meet you! You should mosey on over to the  "Pleased To Meet You" forum and introduce yourself. Maybe describe your parenting philosophy and talk about any children you have, that kind of thing.


tiphat.gif Have a great day!

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