Monday, January 12, 2009

my 10 year old won't sleep

blake has always been a terrible sleeper. as a baby and toddler, he would not got to bed at night. as a single mom for many years, there were days where i literally wanted to rip my hair out of my freaking head. days where i dreaded coming home from work because i was going to have to deal with blake and the fact that the kid would not fucking go to sleep before midnight EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT. it was exhausting. and i felt like i never had time to decompress or relax. and it happened everyday.

his sleeping habits got better once he started school. he would actually go to bed and fall asleep at a decent (normal) hour. then he started getting a little bit older and well, that decent hour didn't hold sleep the way it used too. i definitely have a night owl- which is totally fine. i'm the same way, so whatever.

but here is where the problem lies. blake is completely terrified when it comes to night and falling asleep. he starts thinking about horrifying things. like people breaking in. he freaks out at the thought of someone getting into the house, and he torments himself with what he would have to do if that happened. and what i would do. or what boyfriend would do. and he is freaked out about the planes that fly over our house. he freaking thinks they are going to drop bombs on us. (now this is where i'm like... fucking war movies, war video games, this is why he does not need to be so fucking obsessed with war at this age... he can't seperate it in his mind) he spazzes out about every sound, every move, every anything. he gets wrecked. (and let's not even start talking about the kind of nightmares this kid has. that's another post in itself)

in all honesty too, blake was fine for quite some time. it seems like this nighttime ickiness has flared up since being away from us for a week. he came back from spending time with his dad to this fear of airplanes at night and not being able to sleep again. he can't think of anything that made this happen again. and we don't know either. and nothing works in regards to calming him down. no rational conversation makes him feel better. nothing makes him calm. it's like he cannot be reasoned with.

i remember being a kid and freaking out inside about noises and sounds and stuff. it was terrifying. but i feel like blake takes it to a different extreme. i don't know. it's just really hard and exhausting and sad.

do any of your kids do this? did you do this?! how do i fix it and help him?

18 comments:

Caffeinatrix said...

My daughter has a phobic fear of water she can't stand in. She KNOWS how to swim but is so overcome with fear she panics. So we're kind of in the same boat and have NO idea how to fix it. Since Blake's fear isn't something that can really harm him perhaps taking him outside at night to watch airplanes fly over will help him...you know, kinda forcing him to face his fears. I wish we could do that but the water thing is so over the top, I actually worry that she would freak and end up with her lungs full of water and me performing CPR.

Caffeinatrix said...

Oh, and you know WHY my daughter has this phobia? Because when she was three some fucking bratty little girl pushed into the deep end of a pool. She sank like a stone. I've never wanted to harm a child but that little brat could be the exception.

Alison said...

About someone breaking in at night---I know it's costly but is there any chance you could have a home alarm system installed? Maybe that would give him the peace of mind to sleep soundly at night, knowing he's safe inside. Maybe his dad can foot the bill since he was doing fine before heading down there. :) I'm not sure about planes flying overhead, though. When I was younger, I was terrified of our house being on fire in the middle of the night and I was fearful I wouldn't be able to get out or my parents wouldn't be able to get out. What helped me was my parents sitting down and going over a "plan" if anything like that ever happened...like, here's where you'll go out of your room, here's where we'll meet in the backyard, etc. Chances are, those planes aren't going to be dropping any bombs, but like you said, he's still too young to reason with, so humor him and sit down together and work out a plan. It might be all he needs to feel safe, just knowing there is a plan in place should something disastrous ever happen.

jennster said...

alison- that's a great idea, and something i started thinking of this morning because blake said to me "what are you going to do if someone breaks in our house?" he wanted to know my plan. then he talked about what he would do and where he would hide- and i helped him find good places he could hide and i reminded him that he KNOWS our house and IF someone broke in, they wouldn't know where things were in our house because it's a new place. great one jenn. lol anyway, talking to him about it and stuff will hopefully help. and when i get home tonight maybe him and i will walk around upstairs and see if we can find hiding places for him so he can feel ok. apparently he worries about protecting US and i told him that it was our job to protect HIM and not the other way around. *le sigh*

Meg said...

I remember being terrified at night time when I was younger, mainly of people breaking in to our house. I honestly don't remember how I came to terms with it, except I know my sister told me that people would most likely wait to break into our house in the day time, when we're gone (talk about a whole other set of issues).

I honestly don't know what to tell you about Blake. It could just be a security issue, since he was gone to his dad's for so long and now he's back. It also sounds like he might be trying to think of himself as a man now, wanting to protect you guys. Either way, talking is going to be the best way to work it out, either with you guys or a shrink. I know people cringe at the word, but it might be what it takes to get him back on track.

Best of luck and keep us posted!

Ashley said...

Delurking here.

I'm of no help because I am nearly 30 with three kids of my own and I stress every night about sounds, creaks, and thoughts of burglars. I've watched way too much CSI.

Hope you figure something out and he gets to sleeping better.

Stephanie A. said...

I would think that when it is a time when you cannot rationalize with him, I would just hug him. That is what I do to get through to Hugo when he is not being rational (most of the time he is very rational, so when he is irrational it is ugly). Believe it or not, hugs (rather than the frustration we sometimes feel) at that particular time have helped us.

As for keeping him from that irrational place, I have no freaking clue. I'm wondering if journaling before bed would help him get those thoughts out of his head??? But I would have him do it while you are around in case he needs some support.

That's all I've got. Good luck!

Scientific Lutheran said...

If you have decent insurance, and can afford it, it sounds like maybe he would benefit from some therapy. I was beset by completely irrational fears for several years. Turns out it was related to my bi-polar, but still, just talking to someone who knew how to ask the right questions helped.

If you don't have the insurance, the local MHMR center might be able to help.

There doesn't need to be medication involved, but learning how to be calm and meditative helped me. It didn't make the fears go away, but it helped how I reacted to them when they came on.

Chris O said...

I'm no help, because when I'm sleeping alone, I have to jump into the bed because if I stand to close the under the bed monsters might get me. I still think when my hubby's not home there might be something lurking there (I did have a cat for a while that would hid under the bed and slash your leg if you got too close, this might be part of it and a horror movie I saw as a kid) I'm old and still have phobia's.

My friend takes her 11 yr old to a "feelings" doctor (shrink)because she has a lot of issues about the "what might happens" like your son. She is doing better, sleeping better and not being so tormented by possible disasters, demons, and ghosts.

Grim Reality Girl said...

Jennster -- I've been spending the better part of the last year learning about sleep and kids (due to my son's sleep disorder). Please feel free to email me and I'll send you my contact information if you would like to discuss. It all started with similar stuff (anxiety etc.) but it evolved. It would be easier to talk than post on this, but please take sleep seriously.... I could blog forever about this topic as a mother and as a teacher. Please contact me via email or on my bog. I can send you a really good article on kids and sleep that you really should read. I'll say a prayer for him -- sleep issues suck ass.

M@ndy said...

As a child I was terrified of night, of the dark, of going to bed with the closet open for fear Pennywise the Clown would come out and get me. Somewhat irrational. As a single mom with a three month old I still freak myself out, especially at night. When I start having creepy thought of serial killers and throat slashers, although they absolutely do exist, it is somewhat unlikely that they're coming for me, I literally stamp out the idea with a big CANCEL. Like the kind of CANCEL you would see on your old returned checks. Now, it sounds like Blakes fear of nightime are way more rational then yours truly and I think the idea of finding safe places is great. I hope the little man finds some peace. It's hard being ten and feeling uneasy about the night.

Joe said...

I used to get worried about that, too, as did my stepson and stepdaughter. Eventually my ex-wife and I had them both go to therapy to help them with their fears. It helped a great deal

Kristabella said...

Wow, Blake thinks and worries too much for a 10 year old. Poor kid.

I was never like this as a kid because I've always been a sleeper. But lately I've been having those thoughts of "what if someone broke in? What would I do?" And it is usually at night when I'm trying to sleep and it takes me awhile to calm down.

I guess the best thing to do is reassure him he's SAFE. And show him he's safe.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

wow i have been going through a very similar problem. my 10 year old daugher has always had sleep issues even as a baby. we did go through a period where everything seemed to be working out, BUT recently me nights are horrible. i am 7 months pregnant with my third, and we have been doing some moving around with the bedrooms to make room for a baby room. she of course wanted to moved downstairs into the basement which after a makeover is the nicest room in the house we have a split level so its not like its the far from us. she can not sleep buy herself, she can't fall asleep after waking up in the middle of the night if she knows everyone is already sleeping. she is crying and tearing herself apart because she wants the room but cant seemed to find the courage to sleep there. she is also afraid of someone breaking in. we are almost ready to give in the towel and move her back up to our room and us move down i am worried of her feelings of failure and that she will still wake up and come down stairs to us. we have been very supportive up intil this point, now i am ready to pull my hair out!!!

Grim Reality Girl said...

Jenn.... Things have been crazy in my world but I wanted to check back on Blake's sleep. I hope all is well. I'm sorry for your loss of your grandmother -- my prayers go up for you and your family. I hope Blake is well, email if I can be there to support you!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Sleep issues suck and grief sucks more. (((((Hugs!)))))

DillPixel said...

I don't know if this is practical for you, but I'd get him a dog - a brave little dog, like a Westie. They are fabulous watchdogs, great company, smart and absolutely fearless plus they shed very little. A Westie is not the only breed that fits that description, of course, but it seems your son is at the age where he could really benefit from such a relationship. He would have to take care of an animal that needs to sleep, eat and play at the same hours he does. Might take his mind off the fears, plus the security of having a 24-hour alarm via barking is priceless. I have three little dogs that could take down a 300 lb. man, if challenged! I'd like to see the alarm system that can do that! ;0) Facing his fears IS important, but not as important as sleeping peacefully.

DillPixel said...

And yes, I saw the dog/blog...it just doesn't sound like that dog is your son's dog/companion in the sense I am speaking about. ;0)

Anonymous said...

It's very frustrating when your child won't go to sleep at a normal bed time. Mine seems to be scared of everything, fear of someone breaking in (and we have an alarm) fear of the dark, just anxiety in general. She's 10 I'm a single mom and she sleeps with me. I want her out of my bed but she won't have it. It's driving me crazy. She stays up until 10pm or later most nights. Even if I put her to bed at 8pm she won't go to bed unless I go with her, ruins my entire evening. I'm getting really sick of it that's for sure.