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How to Calm a Busy Brain for Sleep???

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Any ideas??? caffix.gif  DS just never stops - zoom, zoom, zoom goes his brain and little body, night and day!  He is quite precocious, spirited, intense, active.  I have no clue if he's gifted, but thought you guys might be able to help.

 

 He is bright and has always been pretty far advanced in milestones (gross/fine motor and verbal).  A few things to give you an idea:  alert and responsive since birth, loved books as tiny infant (focused), started speaking around 4 months, using sentences and following two-step directions by a year old, has been walking up and down stairs, jumping, balancing on one foot and stringing small beads for months, amazing memory (for events or stories from several days ago).  

 

At 19 months, he is mostly obsessed with puzzles, matching, sequences (can make his own bowl of cereal and a pot of coffee - including grinding the beans), letters (he knows about half of them, upper and lower with sounds), and now he's recently started trying to spell.  He uses at least 200 words and talks constantly - even in his sleep, or as he's falling asleep.

 

Which brings me to the issue - he just cannot slow down for sleep!  If he's in bed, he talks nonstop, or starts shouting out letters in sequence or words.  He'll get up and furiously do puzzles, even though he's half-asleep - or demand to do wash or cook (at midnight? um, no).  He finally crashed at 1:30 am last night.  Skipping naps really isn't an option, because he needs them - he's not getting much sleep overall (only 7 hours at night, plus a 2 hour nap) so I don't want to cut that.

 

I remember (as a former gifted kid) staying up into the wee hours reading with a flashlight - I've always had trouble winding down for sleep, but I can't think of something that might help him - massages, music, rocking, nursing, recapping his day - none of it seems to help.  Reading to him stimulates him (he's pointing out pictures and words and letters).  

 

Anything that worked for your kids?  Did they have this problem?

post #2 of 16
I made up a visualization for my son. I told it to him at night after he was in bed and the lights were out. Complete dark was important. No nightlight. He slept with me, however, so he wasn't afraid of the dark. Anyway, the visualization starts with the description of a field, then a boy comes with his dog. The boy throws a ball and the dog *runs* (said with energy) to get the ball and runs back. The boy throws it again. Over and over, as the dog begins tiring, trotting, and finally walking. During this, it is important for you (or whoever is telling the story) to relax and get sleepy. Children pick up your energy. Eventually, the boy and dog sit and watch the wind lazily blow the grass back and forth (said in a calm, quiet whisper). Then stay quiet and breath slowly and regularly.

It's a long process when really wound up, but shorter at other times. Make sure he's not overly tired, because some children can't unwind if too tired.

Good luck.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you!  Now that you mention it, I do recall imagining myself running a marathon as a way to trick myself into slowing down and feeling tired as a kid.  I am trying to find his "sleep window" so he's not overtired and wound up.

post #4 of 16
I can relate to not being able to shut one's brain down - not mine, but both my DH and DD's! DH, still to this day, fights sleep and hates to wake up. Will say, "I'm not tired!" as he climbs into bed, only to fall asleep within minutes, while I'm still trying to do so... DD, as a carbon copy of DH in many ways, has, still to this day, presented a challenge where getting to sleep/getting enough sleep is concerned!

For my DD, I became quite militant about preserving her sleep. I emptied her room out (took out books, stuffed animals, toys), so that there wasn't anything to play with/stimulate her. While it may seem really harsh, she NEEDED (and still needs) an insane amount of sleep, or it is IMPOSSIBLE to wake her up, or deal with her dark unhappy moods due to a lack of sleep. I also made sure not to keep her up too late; we stuck to the same bedtime (early), as she always woke up at the same time in the AM (sort of early, but not the crack of dawn early) no matter the time she went to sleep (SOOO not the case now that she is a tweener, but still needs a lot of sleep, so the preservation of amount of sleep remains!).

I also had room darkening shutters/curtains so her room would be dark/remain dark. And finally, as she got older, I would sit with her quietly, rubbing her back. I also taught her to take deep breaths to calm down and relax. And with mixed/unsure results, I had her imagine a blank sheet of paper to help her clear her mind.

Don't know if that helps. But just wanted you to know I understand what you are going through. And maybe as a hopeful sign if you have another child, my DS is A LOT easier to settle down for the night (but I did strip his room down to nothing too when he was younger).
post #5 of 16

Hi Pickle, we were in the same DDC. My DS is exactly the same, constantly moving and thinking with difficulties slowing down for sleep.

 

The best thing that has helped DS calm down in the evening is reducing the light in the evening. We try to to only have one or two lights on, and sing a lot before bed. We start with faster paced ones like Bingo or Old MacDonald and end with things like Twinkle, Twinkle.

I also tell bedtime stories with lots of details and calm plots. It really seems to help my DS wind down for sleep.

 

I might also mention, we've moved more exciting activities to earlier in the day. Exciting books and toys disappear in the evening...

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks, oaksie68!  I do try to keep it dark, we have a set bedtime routine, and - in addition to his favorite stuffed animal - I've even let him bring random things to bed that he insists on (this sometimes helps - although the things are weird - one night it was a pair of travel mugs, then the next two jars of pasta sauce! shrug.gif).  Would your daughter stay in bed or in her room at night?  

 

DS just lays in bed in the dark, talks and talks and talks (I try to speak soothingly about slowing our bodies for sleep, or sing softly, or am totally non-responsive - makes very little difference) - then he usually gets up and leaves the room, on some urgent mission.  If I drag him back, it's alot of kicking, screaming and howling (which wakes DH) and he still just does it over and over and over again - very persistent. eyesroll.gif

 

Maybe Rescue Remedy or something?

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks, mamapigeon! (it probably wasn't me in the DDC, though - I didn't find MDC until later smile.gif)  Those are good suggestions - I've tried to do that in the past (starting with fast songs to slow, lowering lights early on, calming activities, etc.) with limited success, but refocusing on it couldn't hurt!

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by pickle18 View Post

Thanks, oaksie68!  I do try to keep it dark, we have a set bedtime routine, and - in addition to his favorite stuffed animal - I've even let him bring random things to bed that he insists on (this sometimes helps - although the things are weird - one night it was a pair of travel mugs, then the next two jars of pasta sauce! shrug.gif ).  Would your daughter stay in bed or in her room at night?  

DS just lays in bed in the dark, talks and talks and talks (I try to speak soothingly about slowing our bodies for sleep, or sing softly, or am totally non-responsive - makes very little difference) - then he usually gets up and leaves the room, on some urgent mission.  If I drag him back, it's alot of kicking, screaming and howling (which wakes DH) and he still just does it over and over and over again - very persistent. eyesroll.gif

Maybe Rescue Remedy or something?

Yeesh, I would be at my wits end with that! Not sure if more information of my experience/methods would be helpful, but here goes! ;-)

DD, for the most part would stay in her room at night (but funnily enough, not when she was taken to her room during the day to calm down after misbehaving and/or throwing one of her epic tantrums/"freakout" sessions). But part of that could be that I gated her in her room at night until she was 4ish? (and luckily she wasn't a climber). Again, I know that sounds harsh, but I also did it because we live in a one floor, split designed house - meaning her bedroom was on the complete opposite side of the house from my bedroom, and between the creepy crawlies we have in AZ (read: scorpions), and the fact I was concerned I wouldn't hear her on her side and/or the kitchen, I felt it was a good thing that she was "contained" (although I did keep a monitor in her room FOREVER so I was sure to hear her if she called out).

I also only allowed 1 'bed friend" and her "burpie" (thin cloth diaper). Gosh, I sound like a tyrant! But she and I both needed our sleep (DD because of mood, me because of chronic illness), and I was out of ideas. I don't think having the gate there upset her, and once I felt she would make good choices (i.e. coming straight for our bedroom when she woke up), I left the gate open.

I think something along the lines of RR might work. After researching, I have for the last few years given my kids Magnesium at dinner time to help relax them for sleep. A LOT of people, are deficient (think people with restless leg syndrome for example)! But my kids have other (health) reasons for supplementation of Mag too (food/allergy related).
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

pek64 - you are a genius!  I swear, I could kiss you!! joy.gif (don't want to count my chickens yet and all that, but still)

 

Ok, I tried to channel all of you last night...I turned lights low early on, no tv or music, started speaking softly about getting ready for bed.  We get into the bedroom plenty early, and as soon as he can tell it's really bedtime, I swear he panics - like total flight or fight!  His eyes get wide and he bolts.  I  keep trying to be firm and drag him back (lots of panicky screams).  He wants to watch a "show" (cooking show on mute, for five minutes in the dark while nursing) - now play in the sink - have juice, no almond milk - reorganize the fridge - say goodnight to the cat (twice) - run around pointing out all the clocks in the house and comparing them. dizzy.gif  All while chatterboxing frantically.  

 

I would think it was just total defiance (and be tempted to lock him in the bedroom to scream) but I KNOW he can't calm himself...you can tell he's a little scared by it, and it's very obvious he is asking for help.

 

I even tried advil in case his teeth were the culprit (desperate move - he's teething, but not that bad).  Finally, a toy made a noise that scared him, so I got him back in the bed.  I sang fast songs that started incrementally slowing down (something that once worked for us, too, mamapigeon) - no go.  He starts to wind down, then his eyes POP open and he's talking a mile a minute.  blahblah.gif

 

I decided to try the visualization approach.  I used the story about the boy and the dog playing fetch in the park - I'm a clumsy storyteller, but it WORKED!!!!  In spite of my lack of skills, he was really listening...I started off with lots of action, like you suggested pek64 - the dog was FULL of energy, zooming and jumping, and then we slowly wound down.  By the time the dog was super tired and walking sooooo sloooowly - DS was sound asleep.  thumbsup.gif

 

eta - I think it really helps him to imagine things, and not have a.) a light on, however dim, and b.) words, letters and pictures to point out and label and obsess over.  Also, he got 10 beautiful hours of sleep!!!

 

* THANK YOU!!!! *

post #10 of 16
You're welcome!! Glad it worked!
post #11 of 16

Hurray for sleep!

post #12 of 16
Yay! I'm so glad! Now here's
to building on it from here. 😊
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your support, guys! orngbiggrin.gif  And yes, oaksie, that was my counting chickens comment earier - let's hope it holds up! winky.gif

post #14 of 16

n/m

post #15 of 16

We do the story theme too…there are some good visualization/relaxtion story CDs on Amazon (and our local library carries them). 

 

They have been invaluable for sleep in our house! One of my girls ramps up as she gets tired and always has…the CDs and relaxation station (pandora on Ipad) have helped her stop talking/thinking and help herself listen and relax.

post #16 of 16
We bought DD the Toddler Sleepy Time CD from hypnobabies.com. We had mixed success with it, but if your DS liked the visualization, it might be worth the $17.
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