8 Year Old With Sleep Phobias

Prima - posted on 04/17/2012 ( 4 moms have responded )




We have a very sweet, loving 8 year old son who has one really big problem. He will NOT sleep alone. He insists that dad or mom sleep in his bed with him. He says he is afraid of the dark, that his mind thinks of scary things. We have tried to reassure him that he is safe, and given him things to "protect" him, but nothing has worked. I can relate with his anxiety, as I was afraid of the dark as a child, so I try to be more understanding, but everyone loses sleep over it. He rarely sleeps if he is not with one of us. We have tried every type of sleep training we can think of, including sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to his bed (& vice versa letting him sleep on a mattress on the floor of our room), sitting in a chair until he falls asleep, laying with him until he falls asleep and sneaking out, leaving lights on, giving him music, giving him snugglies to protect him, giving him flashlights, letting his sister sleep in his room with him, walking him back to his room countless times when he gets up. None of these has worked. In each one of these instances, when we think he should be asleep, he gets up and stands by our bed and wakes us up. If we sneak out of his room, he gets up within 30 minutes and comes and finds us. He is up all hours of the night and we fight with him at 1am to get back into bed. He will get up every hour and come into my room, or scream for me across the house, or get up to go to the bathroom, etc. etc.

Last night it was 11:00 before he fell asleep, and that was because I finally gave in and let him crawl into bed with me, which relegated my husband to the sofa. He needs sleep badly and so do we! I felt so badly when I had to drag him out of bed this morning for school. It's affecting his schoolwork, my husband's job, his relationship with his siblings, everything!

On the rare occasions he does sleep well, he is the sweetest boy I've ever known. I would love to see this boy more often. Any HELPFUL suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks so much for your advice.


Katherine - posted on 04/17/2012




I used to be the same way. I thought everything was a monster. I had MAJOR anxiety. You may want to talk to his doctor about sleep meds...? That might help him. Otherwise I see no other solution.


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Prima - posted on 04/17/2012




Thank you, everyone, for your advice. I have been hesitant to discuss this with his pediatrician, in part because I know my son is embarassed of his issue, and in part because I hate the idea of medicating him. I think, though, that perhaps I should at least bring it up to his doctor, and see what he says. In the meantime, if anyone has any success stories, I would love to hear your advice! :-)

Abby May - posted on 04/17/2012




maybe try a therapist. this may be caused by something more like an emotional imbalance. maybe he is having trouble at school or maybe stress issues,

Amy - posted on 04/17/2012




My 6 year old is like this. We have to lay with him till he's asleep, he always wakes up in the middle of the night and gets into bed with us. Up until 2 months ago it was a battle to get him to go to bed in his bed but the doctor talked to him about it. He had a full on anxiety attack in the doctors office, but that night when we asked him where he was sleeping he said his bed. We have a king size bed so we have the room for him and now he actually sleeps at the foot of the bed otherwise his sister would be crawling all over him in the morning.

I have noticed that when we let my son build a fort of pillows, and I mean like 10 pillows with a ceiling blanket he goes to bed much quicker and is more likely to last the entire night in his bed. Since this is affecting your sleep so much I would talk to his doctor and see if something can be done.

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