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My Son Won't Fall Asleep

by Meg B
(Pittsburgh, PA)

My son is 8 years old and has ALWAYS had a difficult time falling asleep. We have a consistent bedtime routine where we bath, brush teeth, read, etc. We try to avoid eating anything after dinner.

He gets in his bed at around 8:30 but it can take him 2 - 3 hours to fall asleep. He wakes up on his own most mornings and seems rested, but is definitely tired in the late afternoon. Then he seems to get a second wind and he has so much energy.

He has always been a sensitive kid and i know he thinks about things as he is falling asleep. I have refused to stay with him til he falls asleep for a few years now. I am getting frustrated with him lately and I don't want this to be a stressful part of his life.

The pediatrician recommended melatonin, but from what i have read online i am hesitant to give it too him. He has never reacted well to medications. Any advice would be helpful!

Kevin: Thanks for sharing your story Meg. One thing to keep in mind is that melatonin is a natural hormone that your son's body is already secreting at night. So taking a pure melatonin pill would not be medicating so much as just hormone supplementing. If he is still having problems falling asleep, it wouldn't hurt to try it short term just to see if it helps.

You made no mention of it so it may not be relevant, but one thing to make sure of is that your son is not getting a lot of bright light in those 2-3 hours in which he is struggling to fall asleep. Watching TV or a computer at night helps shift your biological clock backwards and makes falling asleep at the desired time an uphill battle. Perhaps reading a peaceful book though would help him calm his thoughts down and tire out his eyes while avoiding the anxiety that comes with lying in bed unable to sleep.

How is he doing now? Feel free to update your page using the comments section below.


(Please keep in mind that I am a student of sleep science and not a medical doctor. Please take any thoughts I give with my background in mind.)

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