Pillow TalkⓇ - Questions and Answers About Sleep

Questions and Answers About Sleep

I have an 8 year old daughter who has been having trouble sleeping over the last 45 days.  She is a very happy, healthy and active little girl.  Like most 8 year olds these days she is involved with dance class, Brownies, soccer, piano lessons and gymnastics.  She made the gymnastics team last year and was practicing three hours a night, three days a week.  In an effort to lessen her load we took her out of gymnastics – but unfortunately the sleeping problem persists.  She goes to bed at the same time as her 6 year old sister and either cannot fall asleep or sleeps for a few hours and then wakes.  Since this has now been happening for over a month she is getting herself worked up.  I can see that she dreads the idea of going to bed and gets equally mad that her sister so easily coasts off to sleep every night.  Lately we take her to our guest bedroom and lay with her until she falls asleep.  We never had to do this in the past and I would be surprised if this is her new routine at this age.


I tried to explain to my daughter that only she can solve this problem and that even resting will be enough to get her through her school day.  She is frustrated with herself and I am sure she knows that we are concerned.  We have told her that when she wakes she can read her book for a few minutes to help her sleep and even taught her some yoga relaxation techniques to help her unwind.


Any ideas as to what we can try?  My wife and I are open to any and all suggestions.





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Not knowing your daughter, or your daily routine,..here are some different thoughts that you may have already addressed, or may not be a problem. Just different things that could be causing the problem.  

  1. How is she doing in school?  You mention that the troubles have been going on for 45 days, which would be around the same time that school for this year may have started for her.  Problems with a teacher, a classmate, or even with how she is understanding her classwork can cause increased anxiety which could cause increased issues with sleep.  
  2. She is very active in extra-curricular activities.  Is this because she wants to be, or is it because mom & dad want her to be?  Also expecially with the soccer and piano, are these activities for fun or is it really important to mom & dad that she excel?  Again, all I am doing is providing possible thoughts to consider.  This may not be any problem.  Just out of curiosity, if she is going to school, going to soccer practice, going to soccer games, doing her homework, taking piano lessons,   practicing the piano, going to dance class, and attending weekly Brownie meetings and working on her stuff for the Brownies.....when does she have time to play or rest?  Adults have problems with sleeping sometimes because they don't take the time to "breathe" sometimes.  In other words, they stay so busy that when they go to bed at night there minds are still working, planning, going 90 miles an hour. 
  3. Is she eating healthy?  No caffinated drinks in the afternoon/evenings, no energy drinks, sports drinks like Gatorade/Power Aide in moderation,  no sugar  in the afternoon's/evenings, plenty of fruits & vegatables,.....  All kids react differently to chocolate & sugar & caffeine.    Sometimes decreasing those in the afternoon/night time can help. 
  4. You had mentioned yoga.  Calming music, soft colors in the bedroom & definitely not going to bed with the tv on helps.  
  5. Is she into video games or playing on the computer?  Sometimes limiting these activities can help.
  6. One last thought, have you tried changing your laundry detergent?  Sometimes with so much chemicals in the detergents for the scents & colors,..will cause allergic reactions. 

Anyway, just some different thoughts to think about.  If all else fells, it doesn't hurt to take her in to visit with a Psychologist or other Counselor.  She may be upset and not realize she is upset. 


I joined this group last night because I was looking for a support group for parents of children with insomnia. My daughter is 10 (she's our only child) and has some of the same issues your daughter does. For our daughter it started a couple of years ago. She slept great her whole life until about 8 yrs of age. Then she started having a horrible time falling asleep or she would wake up in the middle of the night. Because of the lack of sleep she started getting horrific headaches at school. She had a CT and an MRI to try to figure out the headache situation - all the while not putting the two together. Last yr she went on medical homebound school because her headaches were so bad and she was always so tired.

About 6 months ago she had a sleep study done. Thankfully she slept - or didn't - like she does at home and the results were shocking!!! She fell asleep actually pretty fast for her because she was super tired - but then after a while she woke up and it took her almost 2 hours to fall back asleep. They found that her brain stayed in phase 1 the correct amount of time - too long in phase two and that she was only getting 11% REM sleep when she should be getting 25%. More shocking then that though is the fact that her brain has what they call "spontaneous" arousals (where her brain "wakes up" but she doesn't an average of 10.7/hr. Thats like her brain waking up every six mins.

It's nothing that my daughter has control over. We were instructed by the pediatric neurologists sleep specialist to give her melatonin to help her sleep. It's an over the counter supp. The melatonin helps her fall asleep faster but doesn't make her feel "rested". We go back in 2 wks and were already told if she wasn't getting more rest they were going to refer her to a psych dr who is better equipped to handle meds for children.

My daughter sounds a lot like yours - by the age of 6 she made the competition team in gymnastics but training 16 hours a wk at that age was just too much and we pulled her out. She is a normal, happy, respectful child with a beautiful soul and no behavior problems. I've done more research on this subject then I ever thought I could and there  is NOTHING that is approved by the FDA to help children sleep. They talk about good sleep routines, etc. They suggest Melatonin, Benadryl and one very low dose anti depressant to help with sleep but none of this has helped our daughter.

I guess the point to my response is that our daughter would come down the stairs 2 hours after she went to bed telling me she couldn't fall asleep and I would get to the point where I would say "I don't know what to tell you..just lay there and try" - all the while not knowing it wasn't her fault.

Your daughters hormones slowly changing could be having an effect on the way she sleeps (or doesn't). I know it's frustrating but if it continues..for another week or so I would take her to the dr and explain to them whats going on..she may have no control over it what so ever and what you thought was almost like a "sleep anxiety" is actually something totally different! Please feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions - sorry for the long post...Oh and also look up "circadian rhythm disturbances" on wiki and you may have more insight!

Dear MJR
You can email me at the address pigolova@mail.ru
I live in Russia. I can try to help your daughter.
Waiting for your message. Vladimir/

Уважаемый MJR

Можете написать мне на адрес pigolova@mail.ru

Я живу в России. Может я попробую помочь Вашей дочери.

Жду Вашего сообщения. Владимир


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