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Sleep - Does anything help?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Like many gifted kids, my DS has always had "sleep issues." He seems to need less sleep than other kids his age, and at 3 he's still waking several times each night. I'm an elementary teacher, so we were home together over the summer. It seems to me that his sleep was much improved during this time (although still outside the "norm"), but now that he's back in preschool 5 days a week we're back to where we were.

 

This change could be due to any number of factors, but I'm beginning to wonder if the increased intellectual stimulation he got over the summer helped him sleep better. I've always focused on wearing him out physically, but maybe I need to try to wear him out in a cognitive sense too? (If that's even possible!) I've definitely let go of the idea that he should fit the sleep guidelines that are thrown around, but if I could get 30 or 45 more minutes of sleep each night, I'd take it!

 

Does this ring true for any of you out there? Anything that has helped your kid get more sleep?

post #2 of 18

:lurk

 

I am so interested to see what replies you get.  Sleep has been a nightmare with DD2.  She's about to turn 2 and has been a terrible sleeper.  I definitely threw away the "guidelines" on how often and how much sleep she should be getting a long time ago.   

 

She will be up at the crack of dawn, absolutely refuse a nap, go full force all day, resist bedtime with all her might, wake frequently for the first few hours and then often be up several times through the night.  Rinse and repeat.

 

It certainly isn't for lack of physical exercise or fresh air or good food or routine....I had come across the idea that enough mental stimulation could be the key to sleep, recently.  It intrigues me.    

 

ETA: ^ read about it somewhere in this 

http://www.amazon.com/Living-Active-Alert-Child-Groundbreaking/dp/1884734774/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1381257042&sr=8-2&keywords=the+alert+child

 

I honestly prefer to be hands off with them and let them play and "read" independently through the day, but if I could strew a little more in her direction or spend more time reading, or something that would tire her brain out....I would happily do it to get some sleep!!!!!!

post #3 of 18

yes for sure. and if he is a social child then you need to provide his kind of social experience too. 

 

also you need to make sure he eats enough protein as they burn so much more energy. 

 

also be aware of stuff around him. is he worrying about anything. 

post #4 of 18

I've noticed this with both of my (very different) children.

 

I think it's partly filling a general need, and sometimes also a very *local* need--the brain is whirling right then at bedtime, and needs something weighty  to steady itself. Mine have both had phases when they needed a particular kind of book, interesting but also very dense and detailed and slow, to fall asleep. (My mom also does this still sometimes.)

 

Heather

post #5 of 18
Is he still nursing? Are you guys co sleeping? My kids are/were this way. I've always just assumed it was because they nursed at night and we co-slept. Never really thought it had anything to do with giftedness. Now I'm curious
post #6 of 18

Ah, there have been a number of threads on this over the years. I'd do a search in this forum and you'll come up wiht a lot of helpful tips.

A few ideas, not necessarily in order of preference:

You may have to reframe your take on "gifted kids needing less sleep". It's myth, has been debunked by science. Some gifted kids need less. Some need more. they're all over the place, like typically developin gkids. What they DO have in common, most of them, is trouble with winding down and falling and staying asleep. The "overdrive" you notice during the day may be due to lack of good quality sleep, even.

I would not focus on wearing him out physically. I would focus on his sensory diet instead (google that one) and his "nature diet" - don't google that one, I made it up, basically try to do your exercise outside in a natural setting whenever possible. Again, don't focus on the wearing out part, but on the richness of the sensory experience. Physical exhaustion actually makes it harder for my kids to wind down. And keep the social stimulation down: running around with other preschoolers in a gym may make the situation worse. A hike in the woods behind your house (hope you have them!), getting real wet and muddy, having a hot bath afterwards, may help. Then a back rub and a book.

Mental stimulation, yes, but watch out for overstimulation. It is so easy for these kids to go into mental overdrive, too. We have found, for instance, that making our DS1 lie still and listen to gentle fiction at bedtime worked better than reading a nonfiction book and having him excitedly take part and discuss the contents. So more exciting things during the day, slower things at night. NO screens after dinner. Low lights, the parent reads, the kid snuggles in the dim corner.

Check out low-carb high fat moderate protein diets (primal/paleo). Made my kids sleep better and made us sleep better, too! Regulating insulin production is a huge need in our house, for all of us we've found. NO carbs in the morning, no sugary snacks, no soft drinks. No we don't always manage but we try.

Fish oil, zinc, magnesium. Specifically magnesium (start with 200mg, preferably citrate, lower dose if it causes loose stools) has been a wonder drug in our house. Some people in this forum have had great results with melatonin, both slow release and regular.

Good luck!

post #7 of 18

I haven't really had sleep difficulties in my family of gifted kids, so that either makes me completely unqualified to give advice (since I have no experience with this particular struggle) or it makes me an expert (since I somehow prevented any problems?). I'm willing to believe that I just lucked into kids who were good natural sleepers and should just butt out of this conversation, but certainly none of them slept through the night until age 3 or ever slept more than 10 out of 24 hours, so on the off-chance that I did something right that somehow contributed to the lack of struggle as they got older, here's what seemed to work for us.

 

My elder kids were born with highly developed counter-wills, and I knew that if I made it my job to get them to sleep, they would make it their job not to sleep, and they would win. I knew not to go there. I pretty much left sleep choices up to them. I helped them connect the dots [non-judgmentally] if they were testy / bored / emotionally labile if I thought those feelings might be partly the result of being over-tired, but I never enforced bedtimes or bedtime routines. I offered to help get them ready and settled, but when they were young my kids were notorious for dropping off to sleep on the living room floor at some ridiculously late hour, or wandering off to bed unannounced much earlier than I expected. Bedtime was their deal, not their parents'. As parents we were facilitators at most, not enforcers.

 

We did try to create an environment that was conducive to natural sleep-wake cycles, and to noticing when one is tired. I think that one of the most helpful things we almost accidentally fell into was reduced levels of lighting and sound in the evenings. Our house is pretty dark at the best of times, but in the evenings we keep ambient lighting very low, using mostly task-lighting is needed. A recent study showed that camping can help reset night-owls' circadian rhythms by a couple of hours in as little as a week, and I sure believe it. I think artificial lighting sends the body confusing signals about day and night, and it's a lot to expect kids to be attuned to their natural circadian rhythms when we bombard them with artificial light and sound into the evening. I think as a parent it is useful to set up the kind of environment that increases kids' chances of noticing their bodies' natural signals about tiredness. Dark, and quiet, and calm.

 

 

Miranda

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
 

 

We did try to create an environment that was conducive to natural sleep-wake cycles, and to noticing when one is tired. I think that one of the most helpful things we almost accidentally fell into was reduced levels of lighting and sound in the evenings. Our house is pretty dark at the best of times, but in the evenings we keep ambient lighting very low, using mostly task-lighting is needed. A recent study showed that camping can help reset night-owls' circadian rhythms by a couple of hours in as little as a week, and I sure believe it. I think artificial lighting sends the body confusing signals about day and night, and it's a lot to expect kids to be attuned to their natural circadian rhythms when we bombard them with artificial light and sound into the evening. I think as a parent it is useful to set up the kind of environment that increases kids' chances of noticing their bodies' natural signals about tiredness. Dark, and quiet, and calm.

 

 

Miranda

Yes, that. I feel SO good during vacation when we camp or even just spend all day outside and then go to bed with the sun and the kids and I have no trouble whatsoever to get up with the sun. I think part of why outside time in nature helps so much better than mere physical exertion is the sensory experience, but the other part must the influence on the circadian rythm - maybe it's the crucial part, even. To "dark, and quiet, and calm" I'd add no food after dinner, except for maybe a hot broth or hot milk (unless your kid gets revved up by dairy...).

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for all the replies so far!

 

I'm a big believer in spending time in nature as well. I'm sure that he's not getting as much of it as he did in the summer, so that may play a role in this! We're actually going camping this weekend. It's only one night (that's all I think I can handle with a 3 year old at this point) but we should be spending A LOT of time outdoors... hiking, playing, etc. It will be interesting to see if that has an effect.

 

I'm going to rule out dietary issues. He does not eat processed foods, so he doesn't really get sugar outside of fruit (which he does eat a lot of) and maple syrup with pancakes. The magnesium theory is interesting though. He and I both have GI issues and I have hormonal migraines. We've attempted Mg citrate supplements in the past, but they were really hard on our digestive tracts. Maybe I should look into another formula?

 

Tigrele - you make a good point about the timing of the mental stimulation. I would need to make sure I leave enough wind-down time if I do go down this road. 

 

Thanks again everyone!

post #10 of 18

Two of my three children didn't need much sleep as babies and small children, and they both had difficulties falling asleep both as babies, toddlers, kids and adolescents. My middle child is an "atypical gifted" child. She never did "well" on testing, had test anxiety and tended to "choke" on test, but is brilliant and is at 25 is not only completing Grad School but is getting her career on track as we speak. She, however, was my BEST sleeper, and still is. The kid has to set 3 or 4 alarms just to wake up in the morning.

 

My youngest is a Classic Gifted Child, early talker, early reader (before 3rd birthday) blows the tests out of the water, recognized as "Gifted" by her doctors as a toddler and in school as young as Kindergarten. She has a terrible time falling asleep. As a baby and toddler she was always up early, but as an adolescent (she's 14) tends to sleep late often if allowed. She also has Tourette Syndrome and Asperger's so a lot of things are going on to keep her awake, pain, ticcing, thoughts, worries etc.

 

I poo-pooed the idea of using Melatonin (a natural hormone that can be bought over the counter)  at first. I thought our Ped was just humoring me, because I actually asked them for help with her sleep. Her sleep got very bad while we had Pertussis, and of course, I let her sleep in the day because she was SO sick, and it was years of problems after that, although she had never been a "good" sleeper. It finally got so bad (missing school because she couldn't fall asleep etc) that we talked to her Neurologist who said to give it a try. I don't' remember the dosage, but we started with half dosage the first few nights (our Neuro likes to do this to head off side effects of all the meds we have had to give her) and then the full dosage for a child her age. It really helped. She also has chronic headaches and migraines (she's her mother's daughter) so we didn't want to over use the Melatonin, so I think we weaned off it it about six weeks after starting it, and she had learned better "sleep hygiene" and often sleeps better now.

 

You may want to Google "Sleep Hygiene" as learning these techniques really help children and adults. Both my kids and I have a bad habit of doing paper work and computer work in bed. It's a No No for good sleep hygiene. There are other points to SH, you may want to look them up. We found it helpful.

 

Her sleep is not perfect, but both the Sleep Hygiene techniques and the Melatonin helped.

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post
 

Ah, there have been a number of threads on this over the years. I'd do a search in this forum and you'll come up wiht a lot of helpful tips.

A few ideas, not necessarily in order of preference:

You may have to reframe your take on "gifted kids needing less sleep". It's myth, has been debunked by science. Some gifted kids need less. Some need more. they're all over the place, like typically developin gkids. What they DO have in common, most of them, is trouble with winding down and falling and staying asleep. The "overdrive" you notice during the day may be due to lack of good quality sleep, even.

I would not focus on wearing him out physically. I would focus on his sensory diet instead (google that one) and his "nature diet" - don't google that one, I made it up, basically try to do your exercise outside in a natural setting whenever possible. Again, don't focus on the wearing out part, but on the richness of the sensory experience. Physical exhaustion actually makes it harder for my kids to wind down. And keep the social stimulation down: running around with other preschoolers in a gym may make the situation worse. A hike in the woods behind your house (hope you have them!), getting real wet and muddy, having a hot bath afterwards, may help. Then a back rub and a book.

Mental stimulation, yes, but watch out for overstimulation. It is so easy for these kids to go into mental overdrive, too. We have found, for instance, that making our DS1 lie still and listen to gentle fiction at bedtime worked better than reading a nonfiction book and having him excitedly take part and discuss the contents. So more exciting things during the day, slower things at night. NO screens after dinner. Low lights, the parent reads, the kid snuggles in the dim corner.

Check out low-carb high fat moderate protein diets (primal/paleo). Made my kids sleep better and made us sleep better, too! Regulating insulin production is a huge need in our house, for all of us we've found. NO carbs in the morning, no sugary snacks, no soft drinks. No we don't always manage but we try.

 

 

This.

 

I have twins. One is a great sleeper and one is not. It is personality based for us.

 

Same with my siblings & I-- 1 great sleeper, 1 good sleeper but serious night owl, and one horrible sleeper!

 

One daughter than eats higher fat/protien diet and asks for food- sleeps better. My carb-loving going 1000 miles a minute daughter is a poor sleeper. There may be weight in the paleo diet.

 

I fully agree with all above. We keep calm evenings--light reading before bed and physical outside time as much as possible. No screens or mental deep thinking before bed!

post #12 of 18

We have two children, DS age 4, DD age 3. Both are showing signs of being gifted, and are strong willed.

DS has problems falling asleep. He will get up and try to find a comfortable spot at the end of the bed, sleep on the floor etc. I have seen him try to hold his eyelids open. We tell them how their body and minds need the rest to grow and to stay healthy. Our DD woke up several times a night at two.

 She slept the 1st night home from the hospital and did not sleep since!She wakes up at 530 every morning and will wake up at two am.

What works for us : 1/4 to 1/8 of a melatonin tablet 5mg Trader Joes chewable. I only give to my son when absolutely necessary when I see he cannot wind down.

It is apparent that some children just do not produce it. We eat homegrown vegetables and fruits from the garden, and keep the lights on a dimmer setting after dinner. Its comforting to know that I am not the only one. She will nap if shes really tired, she was up at 430 Saturday morning and napped at 12:30 pm for two hrs.

Sometimes I find that a bath riles my son up and he is more alert than ever. We have bought lavender from the health food store and sprayed it before bed. Also having the ceiling fan on or humidifer helps as well.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by KathrynH View Post
 

I'm going to rule out dietary issues. He does not eat processed foods, so he doesn't really get sugar outside of fruit (which he does eat a lot of) and maple syrup with pancakes. The magnesium theory is interesting though. He and I both have GI issues and I have hormonal migraines. We've attempted Mg citrate supplements in the past, but they were really hard on our digestive tracts. Maybe I should look into another formula?

 

"dietary issues" is not about the quality of food someone eats.  It's about foods that irritate that individual system.  My kid can't have tomatoes, oranges or apples (they happen to be related).  Doesn't matter that they're fresh and organic.  So to toss the diet theory out on "my kid eats unprocessed, low-sugar food" is only seeing one potential aspect.  Even then, I have one with such severe blood sugar regulation issues that he can't even have fruit without it being accompanied by fats to prevent the dysregulation.  You have no clue how long it took me to figure THAT out because he didn't exhibit any symptoms other than rather bad behavior that was just getting worse (and looking almost bipolar).  We inadvertently eat primal/paleo (between what we can't actually eat and my laziness it lands in primal/paleo).  And we don't do anything flour-based at all.  Every body is different. Don't assume you know your kid's just by glancing at it.  Some of these little bodies can get pretty complicated.

 

Also, my now turning 10yo used to sleep 6 fitful hours out of every 24 until we started giving him fish oil (Nordic Naturals Omega 3-6-9 liquid--NOT the children's version).  Within 10 days, that kid was sleeping 9-10 hours/night PLUS a 1-3 hour nap (he was 3-1/2).  I was stunned.  So there's something to the brain needing those fats sometimes.

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

"dietary issues" is not about the quality of food someone eats.  It's about foods that irritate that individual system.  

I apologize if my comment sounded flippant. We've actually explored many dietary irritants and have not eaten gluten in over a year because of his GI issues (which did have an effect on his sleep, but the issue is obviously far from resolved). Because we've spent so much time on his diet, I was eliminating this a theory. I suppose I skipped over the extent to which we have monkeyed with his diet for brevity's sake.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by KathrynH View Post


I apologize if my comment sounded flippant. We've actually explored many dietary irritants and have not eaten gluten in over a year because of his GI issues (which did have an effect on his sleep, but the issue is obviously far from resolved). Because we've spent so much time on his diet, I was eliminating this a theory. I suppose I skipped over the extent to which we have monkeyed with his diet for brevity's sake.

 

Actually, it was your comment about the amount of sugar he gets that made me reply.  And really--as much for anyone else reading.  :)

post #16 of 18
DS (just turned 4) has always been a lousy sleeper, too, but not just staying asleep: he's also bad at falling asleep.  About 6 months ago I gave up on him falling asleep by himself and went back to rocking him to sleep in the dark in the rocking chair.  Before rocking to sleep, he gets 10 minutes to sit with me in the dark in the rocking chair and talk about whatever he wants. It turns out he has a lot on his mind at bedtime and it has helped him a lot to have the opportunity to get it all out there.  He falls asleep (still rocking in the dark in the rocking chair) quite quickly after his 10 minutes of talking are up.  And usually now I can sit with him in the rocking chair if he wakes up at night just because, I think, he is used to falling asleep that way.
 
FWIW he has reflux and is diary intolerant, but dietary changes haven't done much for his sleep. Kiddie Zantac did help eliminate a frequent wake-up around 10-11pm, but didn't seem to help otherwise.  He's recently--within the last 6 weeks--just randomly been sleeping better, such that once or twice a week he actually sleeps straight through until, say, only an hour before my alarm clock goes off.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufilia View Post
 
FWIW he has reflux and is diary intolerant, but dietary changes haven't done much for his sleep.

 

Wondering if your dietary changes included removing both soy AND dairy simultaneously. The coincidence rate of reaction is 80-85% so it's one of those times I advise people to remove two at the same time and then challenge one at a time to see if they're both an issue or just one.  Otherwise, people remove one or the other and don't see change and believe that the person is just not reacting to whichever one they pulled out.  :/  And reflux is often related to food intolerance.  The irritant food causes a reaction that loosens the esophageal sphincter which causes the reflux.  Just a thought.  Dairy and soy leave the body by the 10th day, so you could do it for 2 weeks and potentially see some change and then ideally give it another week before challenging.

 

Hoping this is taken in the spirit in which it's meant.  "dietary changes" is a broad statement and means different things to different people.

post #18 of 18
This sounds just like my son. I just started eating primal but I'm having a really hard time getting my picky 3 year old to join me (he LOVES his gluten free bread). I'm wondering if it might help him...
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