Sleep disorder - 12 year old boy!

Anne - posted on 01/20/2011 ( 11 moms have responded )

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Hi- looking for anyone's help or comments who have dealt with sleep problems. My son (12) has some anxiety issues. We have been to 3 therapists and tried a low dose of Zoloft at Dr's suggestion to help with anxiety.



My son still wakes up 99% of every night and comes to my room. I try to get him back to sleep in his own room but sometimes I'm too tired for the battle. If I can get him to calm down, it takes about 20-30 minutes, usually around 2:30 or 3:00 am.



I'm a single mom of two. My older son is being woken up by the noise as well (our house is fairly small). I simply don't know what to do any more. The only thing that fixes his night waking is allowing him to sleep in my room from the start of bedtime. I don't want that, he keeps me awake by moving around all night and it's not helping him become self sufficient the way he should be at his age.



I have tried everything- warm milk, talking, changing bedtimes, baths before bed, back rubs, diet. I just can't function any more. I work in the day and need to figure this out before I collapse. I'm worried about both of use, and the impact on my other son as well.



Thanks!!

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Melissa - posted on 01/23/2011

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Hi Anne, I have a 13 year old boy that was the same, it's very frustrating. We ended up with a brilliant Phychologist who specializes in hypnosis. This worked really well for sleep and other issues. We even had a Relaxation tape we used to play for him for 10 mins when he was in bed, he loved it. He also told us to try other things like, talking about the past when they were little and funny things they used to do while gently stroking their forehead. You will notice that when their eyes are starting to close they are actually going into the hypnotic state, this is the best time to reinforce positive things to say to him especially especially if he has had anxiety issues in the past! Things like, we all love you and you are doing so well at school, such a good boy and we are so proud of you. Whatever you think is positive to say to him really. It can take sometimes weeks of doing this but it worked for us. Another thing we were told was one on one time with them, to make them feel loved and special. It works too and helps them get along better with their siblings.
Anxiety in children is a terrible thing for them and most of the time it's finding out the problem working on it. I sympathize with you and your son!

Amy - posted on 01/31/2011

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My son went through similiar issues at that age and I took him for a sleep study. He never remembered the next morning walking or wakeing me up but sometimes would be very stressed and agitated. He ended up having obstructivge sleep apnea and had surgery on his throat to shorten up his soft pallet and remove his tonsils. I would start by taking him to a good ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist) They also said at the sleep study to keep him away from stimulation a few hours before bed such as tv, video games, reading, etc. At this point what do you have to lose? Good luck!

Terri Lynn - posted on 01/24/2011

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They have some natural remedies, Panic anxiety runs in my family, check with his Dr about Saint Johns wart,Kava Kava. Valerian root and melanin. These are herbal remedies for anxiety, mood, and sleep disorders.
B vitamins help our nervous system as well. My son was very ADHD on top of the anxiety & sleep issues. I hated the side effects of the drugs the Dr, had him on previously. Good luck Sweetie!!!

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Duaneangela - posted on 02/02/2011

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hello dear, could your older son help by sleeping in the same room as the younger one? I am trying to get my 11 year old to stay put in his own bed but he is an only child - he is fine on sleep-overs where they all bed down in their sleeping bags and he can hear them breathing.

KELLIKAYZ - posted on 02/02/2011

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YOU MAY WANT TO GO BACK TO THE DOCTOR TO HAVE SOMETHING ELSE PRESCRIBED. ZOLOFT IS AN ANTI-DEPRESSANT AS WELL AS AN ANTI-ANXIETY MEDICATION. HE MAY NEED ONLY A MED THAT IS FOR ANXIETY AND NOT THE COMBO. THE ANTI-DEPRESSANT IS GOING TO HAVE THE OPPOSITE EFFECT THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. I HOPE THIS HELPS.

Jane - posted on 02/01/2011

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In my experience Xanax works better on anxiety than Zoloft. Zoloft is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor and helps with mood swings and depression, while Xanax works on anxiety and the endless cycling your brain can get into when you are stressed. I have taken both and still take Zoloft for depression.

My son, a major night owl, takes Trazodone to help him go to sleep. This was prescribed by his psychiatrist and works in about half an hour.

I also have problems with him wanting to sleep with me. Since he is now 16 I feel it is inappropriate at best. Starting when he was 12 we set up rules about bedtime and sleeping location, and he is not allowed to wake others up at risk of losing TV and PS2 privileges. He is doing much better.

Laura - posted on 01/21/2011

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Anxiety attacks are no fun! I've had them before (reaction to medication) and I sympathize with your son.

With that said, don't be too quick to discount his diet. It won't neccessarily "cure" the anxiety, but it may help to reduce the symptoms! More and more research is showing the additives such as dyes (especially red), preservatives and flavorings can cause behavioral problems. Removing foods with these types of additives in them may help but only when followed for a length of time (weeks and months vs. days).

Sara does have a point about making rules for these nighttime events. Just because he is waking does not mean that you have to allow him in your room! Right now your son is using you as his comfort mechanism rather than learning to self-comfort after these wakings. Given that these are anxiety-related episodes, I DO understand that some special care needs to be considered Running to mom's bed does NOT need to be on the list however!

Sit down with your son and spell out your expectations for his behavior during the night-- he needs to be using some technique (breathing excercise, for example) consistently. You expect him to do this no matter what, even if it doesn't seem to be working. The idea is to establish a behavior that can help him focus. During this talk, come up with a routine that he needs to follow. This routine could be simply getting out of bed to go to the bathroom for a drink of water. Get creative and let him make suggestions. If his ideas for establishing a routine can be used, he will be more likely to do it. You can establish conditions where it would be permitted to come wake you, just make sure that there are consequences (punishments) for not following those agreed upon conditions. At no time should coming to your room be an option! He may sleep on the couch or his bed, those are the acceptable choices that he has. All of this is to teach him how to comfort himself.

Once you two come to an agreement on the routine to use for waking at night, write it down. Follow it consistently. You might even use a "star chart" to track his nighttime behavior. If he can meet the goals set (one week of following the routine, for example) he earns a reward of some sort. The reward doesn't have to be big or expensive, just something that he likes/wants and would be willing to work for. As frightening as anxiety attacks can be, they can be dealt with successfully, even by the person having them. Hope this helps and good luck!

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Bless your heart, and his. What if you put a bed in your room for him? Do you think he would sleep better in your room but not in your bed? I know that space is probably an issue but even an inflatable bed that could be deflated and put away in the morning would be better than him in your bed. Hopefully this is something he will (for lack of a better term) outgrow, before mom drops.

Anne - posted on 01/21/2011

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Thanks for the response. The therapists have said he has a significant problem with anxiety...we have tried a lot of techniques but he isn't really benefitting. If you are familiar with true anxiety you understand panic attacks etc. They take on a life of their own. I'll keep at it. Thanks for your help.

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What do the therapist say?

I know this sound mean, but if there is nothing physically wrong with him and the therapist don't find issues you may need to set rules. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ROOM BEFORE 6AM. DO NOT TURN ON TV OR RADIO OR LIGHTS. Make the rule and enforce it. He needs to learn to be respectful of the rest of the family even if he is a night owl.

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