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Help my 7 year old get to sleep

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
My second grader has always had trouble falling asleep. When she was 4-6 yo she would take books to bed with her and read them until she could fall asleep. When she started first grade we realized that she was staying awake until 10 pm every night. So we decided no more books in the bed, hoping that without the distraction she would fall asleep sooner. But that seemed to have started the endless requests for water, trips to the bathroom and then (about a year ago) complaints that her legs hurt.

For a while my husband would massage her legs, sometimes we would give her tylenol or a heating pad. I don't doubt that sometimes she has growing pains, but sometimes we cannot give her so much attention at night (like last night when the toddler was throwing up every 15 minutes) and she throws a fit. I think that "my legs hurt" has become a habit and she complains that she can't fall asleep.

We are at a loss for how to help her get to sleep at an earlier hour (8 pm). She wakes up grumpy every morning. On the weekends she will sleep until 8-9 am. I believe that her normal body clock makes her a night owl (I am too), but in order to get up for school and be alert she needs to be awake at 6:30 am. We need to find some way to help her "reset" her body clock to sleep at an earlier hour.

I have tried a homeopatic "sleep aid", but it has seems to have no affect. Chamomile tea doesn't work. I am thinking about trying a dose of benedril at night, but want to test it on the weekend knowing that it may make her hyper instead of sleepy. She now takes a calcium and magnesium supplement to help her growing pains - and the complaints about pain are not everynight anymore, but she's still awake for hours in bed.

Does anyone have any ideas? Has anyone tried melatonin in children? Any suggestions would be appreciated!

post #2 of 4
How written in stone is that 6:30 wake up call?

Someone on the boards allows their child to sleep in their clothes for the next day, which wouldn't be my first choice, but a possibility.

Could she eat breakfast in the car/on the bus?

Is there any other way to streamline the morning?

If you want her to get on a schedule, though, you're probably going to need to wake her up at 6:30 on the weekends, too and stick with it for a couple of weeks.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
I'm afraid the 6:30-7:00 wake up is written in stone. We live close to school (5 minutes driving, 15-20 minutes walking), so eating in the car is not really an option.

There's not much to be done in the way of streamlining the morning. If she and her brother are out of bed and dressed by 7-7:15 then we can all have a good breakfast, brush our teeth, put on our shoes, get backpacks that are already packed the night before and walk out of the house by 7:45. But if dd stays in bed as long as possible, and if I have to constantly check on her and prod her out of bed then breakfast is late and rushed, dd is crabby and picking fights with her brother and we are all irritate and rushed unnecessarily.

Thank you for your comments though. I have thought about early wake ups on the weekend, but it is the only time dh and I get to sleep in!
post #4 of 4
I try not to be rigid on weekend bed times, but I do insist they all get to bed by 8:30 PM or my kids are impossible to get up to school in the morning. I will admit it took years to get them on a sensible schedule. Their natural personality also has a lot to do with it. If they do not like too much structure this can be a challenge.

Exercise to keep them busy is helpful. My son is in football and has his homework and practicing to do. This helps him be tired enough to go to bed. My dd is 7 yo and does have trouble going to bed on time, but by her disposition I can tell she is exhausted. The minute she is in bed, and she lays down she is asleep. My youngest son (6) is still pretty good about being in bed on time and getting up; he is the first up all the time.

Reading a story is helpful; having a schedule for bath time and a relaxing exercise is helpful. Also they can drink a warm beverage if helpful. I cosleep with my kids still also, which helps them lay down and settle down. They are getting independent of cosleeping every night though, but I stay in their room with them 2-3 nights out of the week to insure a secure falling asleep routine. It has been successful for awhile.

We still have difficulty with the bedtime schedules, but the key is to stay consistant. Any deviation at all is devastating because I have to start all over again getting them back in the routine.
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