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Psychologist needs help stopping a child's 2am wakeup

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Psychologist needs help stopping a child's 2am wakeup

Postby Basaltmama » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:23 pm

First time posting- I am a psychologist helping a 12 year old child who developed a sleep problem at age 7. Completely normal sleep prior. There are no signs of apnea or any other common sleep disorder. She is a gifted child who struggles with a few sensory integration issues, and who presented with problems getting to sleep and staying asleep due to symptoms of anxiety and irrational fears. The life changes surrounding the development of these symptoms were a change in school (was needing a more challenging environment, so transferred from public to Montessori) and a period of depression in the child's father (child was worried about him). The anxiety has resolved during treatment and the child now has no trouble falling asleep. However, she continues to wake around 2am and may stay awake for anywhere from 2 mins to 2 hours trying to get back to sleep. This is exhaustingthe child and parents. I am developing a treatment plan to perhaps disrupt the child's pattern by having the mother wake her at some other time (say 11 or midnight) to pre-empt the wakeup, and briefly/ immediately gentle her back to sleep, suggesting to her that she won't haveto wake up later because she'll already have spent her wakeup for the night.

I would love to know your ideas/suggestions regarding this plan, as I have already had her trying the self- relaxation exercises and various other things that put her to sleep well initially to no avail.
Many thx
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Re: Psychologist needs help stopping a child's 2am wakeup

Postby jasmin » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:24 pm

Hi, Basaltmama! I'm honored that you'd ask people's opinions here, feel free to post about this in more subforums, as there might be more replies that way.
Your idea sounds very good to me.
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Re: Psychologist needs help stopping a child's 2am wakeup

Postby Basaltmama » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:25 am

Thx for your vote of confidence and the advice...I'll get right on it!
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Re: Psychologist needs help stopping a child's 2am wakeup

Postby jasmin » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:45 am

Good luck :D
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Re: Psychologist needs help stopping a child's 2am wakeup

Postby Jaspar » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:18 pm

Sometimes just giving the child something she can take-even if you think it a placebo (never underestimate the power of a placebo) may help her fall right back to sleep. Try Hyland's Calms or Hyland's insomnia formula.

Another suggestion might be to try extended-release melatonin.

And what about the new research on rocking? Maybe a hammock bed would help?
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Re: Psychologist needs help stopping a child's 2am wakeup

Postby margharris » Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:19 am

Underlying issues for child of interest. ie What is the fear/ doubts about? Where is she finding her approval? Gifted children usually self initiate and do well in most environments when they are left to their own devices. The emphasis of being acceptable to the peer group becomes more the issue. How does she fit in and who are her friends? Can she bring them home to play?
Is she in a multi-age class? With age the differences in ability can be more obvious and the teacher can be using the child as a surrogate teacher in the room. It could be that too much is being expected of her. Some parents of the gifted think they are failing their child if they don't invest heavily in their education. Lateral extension activity. eg sport like basketball,or dancing, in the evening might make the child more tired and less stressed and actually feel better about themselves. I am also thinking that the physical needs developing to keep pace with the mind.This encourages social interaction at an age appropriate to biological level. The gifted have a tendency to spend too much time in their own headspace. Starting them off with activities that can serve them socially and physically gives them better balance.

Often these children do extremely well with piano. Again the parents need to let the child decide their own pace and not get too involved. You are looking to encourage the child to approve of what they do themselves. Unfortunately it is isolating.
Regarding the symptom of night wakefulness. A glass of flavoured milk. No talking, no lights. Early wake routine when parents go to bed might be worth a try.

Good luck. PS. I had a gifted child myself. It is a shock what they can do. The parents do need to know that they can relax and trust the child. These children can bloom where they are planted.
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Re: Psychologist needs help stopping a child's 2am wakeup

Postby jlsmanning » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:11 pm

You might give the book "At Days Close: Night in Times Past" a look, because prior to the advent of electric lighting, humans regularly woke up for a couple hours in the middle of the night and divided their night into "First Sleep" and "Second Sleep." In a night that lasted from sundown to sunup, that still provided plenty of total sleep time. Instead of assuming that this child's sleep pattern is dysfunctional, perhaps consider that the expectations are unnatural. Instead of increasing her anxiety with jarring sleep interference, perhaps provide her with so blue-light-blocking sunglasses for nighttime, which would aid sleep onset, and a diary or some other calm activity for her midnight wake-ups. Historically, many people used that time to reflect on the day in diaries or to write about their dreams; others used it to socialize or be 'affectionate' with partners. I was a night owl child myself, and I treasured the calm low-stimuli alone time of night for reading and thinking. I also had early-onset bipolar disorder, but they didn't diagnose that in those days. I have just posted my circadian rhythm adjusting sleep regimen in the bipolar forum, if you want to try to force the child into a more conventional sleep pattern.
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