5 year old not sleeping!!!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by neednewtechnique, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. neednewtechnique

    neednewtechnique New Member

    We have had a very rough couple of weeks at our house, my 5 year old has stopped sleeping!!! She's scheduled for an evaluation with her PEDIATRICIAN on the 15th, this Saturday, but I am in need of SOMETHING to help with the rest of this week!!! I have got to get some sleep, and she has to go to school.

    At first, we were leaning more towards ADHD because she is so hyperactive most of the time, but then there are also times when she gets so depressed, so the doctor is leaning more towards BIPOLAR, and after reading the link someone posted about the differences between ADHD and BIPOLAR (thank you for that, by the way, it was very insightful), I am also agreeing with him that she may be bipolar. It just seems like such a young age to be diagnosed with such a big label. If it IS bipolar, then it is pretty rapid-cycling, because we are talking about SERIOUS MANIA 3-4 days a week, and serious depressed the other days. There is NO in between it is totally one extreme or another.

    Then the last few weeks, we add this sleeping problem on top, and even giving her Melatonin isn't helping. She can be up until 2 or 3 in the morning, wide awake either bouncing off the walls crazy during mania, or just crying during depression days. Then she wakes up at 6 in the morning back in full force again.

    I just wonder if any of you have had this problem before, and what is a good way to get through long stretches of time with no sleep for you OR for the child???
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I know this sounds crazy but often when my kids were going through periods when they couldn't get to sleep, the solution was to put them to bed much earlier. It goes contrary to keep them up later so they'll be really tired but what that did to mine was get them so overtired they couldn't get themselves to sleep until they literally passed out. For instance for the kid whose typical bedtime was 8 I might try 7:30 or 7:15.

    Another suggestion is to look into the area of sensory integration and see if you can't find any help there. Weighted blankets, heavy quilts, body pillows, a lofty mummy sleeping bad, a beanbag chair for a pillow, a heating pad on the feet, sleeping on a cushy sofa instead of bed, etc are the kinds of things that can make HUGE differences for some kids.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    This is going to sound crazy, but it should be considered.

    A young girl we know, she's in difficult child 3's drama class for kids with disabilities, sounds exactly like this. It's so bad that she's never had a full day of school, not in three years. She's been a problem since before she was school-age and she's now 8 years old. When she sleeps, it's so very deeply that she can't be roused. The truant officer even had a go (at the mother's invitation). Picture the conversation.
    Truant officer at the door: Madam, your child should be in school.
    Frazzled mother: I know that, you know that. I can't wake her.
    TO: What do you mean, you can't wake her? You just haven't tried!
    FM: Then YOU have a go - if you can get her awake enough to get her dressed and off to school, you are a miracle worker.
    (TO goes into house, into child's room, tries to rouse child. No response.)
    TO: Have you tried a wet face cloth?
    FM (laughs): I've tried putting her in the bath fully clothed. Look, the bathtub is still full from last night. Bit cold, though... (mother picks up sleeping daughter, lowers her gently into cold bath. Child does not stir).
    TO: I'll make a note on the form. There appears to be something medical wrong here.
    FM (sarcastically): Ya think?

    Hours later in the day, the little girl wakes and begins bouncing off the walls, apparently totally manic until 4 in the morning, when she collapses into sleep again. The mother is finally giving her melatonin (has to be privately imported into Australia - not yet legally available on the market here).

    This mother has had her hands full. She's successfully raised a number of other kids but her youngest two are a problem, for entirely different reasons. This girl has been on waiting lists for medical referrals and assessments, though hospital clinics, for most of her life. I've actually read some of the reports - the mother is desperate for ANY advice and while our kids are in drama we have an informal support group going.
    Then finally the little girl's name came up on waiting lists and she was seen by an expert. He found her tonsils and adenoids were badly enlarged. Her chest has developed badly - very pigeon-chested. Yes, the child snores. The specialist ordered sleep studies done, they showed severe sleep apnoea - the girl could die at any minute while sleeping, it's so severe. The mother now sleeps with the little girl within physical reach, ready to get her breathing again if possible, should she stop. It's this specialist who got the girl onto melatonin.
    Another referral, another long wait (for an 'urgent' assessment) - to see an ear nose and throat man. Yes, he will take out her tonsils, but because they are poor it will mean maybe another long wait, a year or more.

    Meanwhile she's still not attending school, still not learning anything, still manic while awake (most of the night) and almost comatose during the day. But she HAS improved on antibiotics and the melatonin, she is attending school for some of the day, some days a week, which is much better than ever before.

    Some would just diagnose this kid as childhood bipolar, but the sleep specialist said that just about all of it is related to the sleep apnoea and the grossly enlarged tonsils & adenoids. He said even the manic behaviour - the kid is terrified to go to sleep, she's desperately keeping herself awake because her body knows she stops breathing a hundred times an hour or more. She hates sleeping because she suffocates repeatedly in her sleep.

    I'm not saying that a child like this is ALWAYS going to have a sleep apnoea cause, but after having seen this girl I would highly recommend checking it out before giving a kid medications for BiPolar (BP) which may not necessarily be the problem.

  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I hope you are not relying on a pediatrician to diagnosis bipolar disorder. Your pediatrician should start you on the road toward ruling out medical causes (as Marg suggested) and then referring your daughter for a psychiatric evaluation. You should also consider neuropsychological testing to make sure no stone is left unturned. We have an amazing pediatrician, but he knows his limits and always refers out when the issues go beyond his expertise. Dxing serious mental health conditions like bipolar disorder goes beyond the expertise of ALL pediatricians.

    In terms of sleep, have you ever tried Benadryl on your daughter? You might want to ask your pediatrician about it. It is an over-the-counter antihistamine that makes most kids sleepy. However, some kids have a paradoxical reaction that causes them to become hyper. You need to test it out on your daughter to see how she'll react.
  5. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh those sleepless nights. How well I remember them. difficult child would be up so late and none of use got any sleep except easy child who can sleep through everything. We finally had to turn to sleep medications for our difficult child. When we told psychiatrist how little sleep he was getting he told us that was no good at all and prescribed some medications.

    I hope you are able to get some sleep soon. Hugs.
  6. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    I agree with SRL 100%. Duckie had a 7pm bedtime until last June. She would be up and down and up for the day around 5:15am if she stayed up much later. We are still adjusting to her 8pm bedtime. I had to move her up by 15 minutes increments over several weeks this summer so she could participate in activities after school. In addition to the sensory suggestions posted by SRL, I cannot stress adherence to a routine strongly enough. An early supper, bath, stories or quiet play, a massage. This would help comfort & calm Duckie so that her mind and body would be ready to sleep. I also found that running a fan helped to create white noise so that she wouldn't be focused on what we were doing in the rest of the house.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree that the lack of sleep could be childhood mania. These kids can go without sleep--it's unbelievable. I'd see a Psychiatrist (with the MD) and a neuropsychologist. Are there any mood disorders or substance abuse on the family tree?
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    The lack of sleep can certainly cause depression. That's why you need an expert, to distinguish the diff between exaggerated childhood issues, and something lifelong, like bipolar. It's a chicken and egg thing.
    You've gotten some good ideas here. Wish I could be of more help.
  9. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    My difficult child listened to a lullaby tape going all night long until he was probably 7 and decided he was too old for that. He still doesn't sleep well if there's noise from outside and since we live close enough to an interstate to hear the noise at night, I make sure his room is closed up by bedtime, even if it means turning on the AC for a little while.
  10. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I agree with SRL and everyone else... K and N both have sleep issues, N's are worse now... K's medications help her sleep.
    I have found... Yoga, no TV before bed. A bath and then calm reading... to a weighted blanket, sound machine, K like the tropical sounds, with the lullaby playing in the background. Dark shades... I also give her a backrub when she is restless.
    When K was very manic I gave her, her leapster handheld video game... it is educational and she had so much going on in her head that she could not stop it. She would lie in the dark and play the game until she became sleepy, eventually falling asleep. We stick to a schedule also.
    I don't schedule any evening activities... not with K so unstable, for BiPolar (BP) kids eating, sleep and a schedule is vital...
    I really see a difference. It is working with N also... we also give them Calms Forte...

    Good luck!
  11. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    This will come as a shocker but I give difficult child 15 minutes of easy child computer time (non aggressive stuff but not educational) in the kitchen prior to heading back to get ready for bed. It really helps him by focusing his mind one one thing and keeping his body in one place and actually settles him down instead of being stimulating as you might expect. He goes back and draws or reads himself now but when we first started this he would get ready and then his head would usually be asleep within 10 minutes of hitting the pillow (when he was stable, that is).

    This is something I never would have thought to try (we just stumbled on it) but it's made a huge difference in bedtime around here.
  12. neednewtechnique

    neednewtechnique New Member


    Your account of the little girl who could not be awakened is NOT as stranged to me as you might think...my husband has the same thing!!!!! Severe sleep apnea with super-enlarged tonsils and adenoids and he DOES NOT WAKE UP!!!! We are actually trying now to get it worked out for insurance to pay for him to get one of those machines that you can hook yourself up to before bedtime that will deliver a little burst of energy to your body if you stop breathing, it is supposed to get your body breathing again. A sleep study has been suggested for my 5 year old, as she has always had sleep problems, but I thought she grew out of it for a while, and now it's back even worse than when she was a baby. She does NOT have sleep apnea, as she does not stop breathing in her sleep, but the doctor has always thought something was going on in there. No, we are not relying on the Pediatrician to diagnosis the BIPOLAR, and her counselor is going to help me with this by trying to discourage him from doing her medications himself. She has made a report for him which indicates that although several of her symptoms point to ADHD, she recommends that she have a full blown comprehensive psychiatric evaluation by a professional because there are also several symptoms that DO NOT fit ADHD. I am hoping that this information, along with my account of her actions will be enough to convince him to write the referral. However, I think that I am planning on trying to get him to prescribe her a sleep medicine just to help her get by until the evaluations because I was told that if he DOES send a referral, the intake process could be up to 4 weeks before they are ready for the evaluation, and I don't think I can handle much more of these late nights!!

    Her therapist is pretty sure that she has either Bipolar or ADHD, but she is also convinced that there is also something underlying that she can't put her finger on. (She is not providing an official diagnosis, just her opinion, and a good starting place for the doctor).

    Thanks for the suggestions, we have also tried the Benadryl and some nights it might help, others it doesn't, however I have a difficult time giving that to her on a regular basis, we reserve that for the REALLY tough nights.