Childhood insomnia

I’ve talked before about the fact that Theo has sleep issues but I’ve never really explained how bad these issues are. I was beginning to think that things were getting better after our move to New York but this past week he had a serious regression and we may take it to his doctor now.

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Theo has been a terrible sleeper since the day he was born. He has always slept in his own bed but he has also always had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. For the first two months of his life, we spent every single night dealing with at least an hour of crying whether we held and rocked him or just placed him in his bed. Finally, we figured out that he needed a serious nightly routine in order to settle down and feel comfortable enough to peacefully go to sleep. We began doing baths with lavender baby wash and lotion every night and it seemed to do the trick. Aside from not sleeping through the night until he was 15 months old, Theo’s sleep habits seemed to level out.

Then at 26 months he stopped taking naps completely. To give some perspective on how early this is let me note that Parker took naps for a full year longer than this. To compensate for the lack of naps we started putting him to bed around 6 or 6:30, which is still his current bedtime more than three years later. But even with no naps, he would still wake up between 5:30 and 6. I know that sounds like a solid night of sleep but according to our doctor and WebMD, at that age, he should have been getting around 13-14 hours of sleep a day. And of course that bedtime was not always solid – it’s sometimes hard to make sure dinner is ready and baths have been taken in time for a 6:30 bedtime – yet he continued to wake up between 5:30 and 6 regardless. Somedays he would be fine and I would think maybe he just didn’t need that much sleep. But other days it seemed like the sleepiness had caught up with him and I could tell from his behavior that he was exhausted. Naps began to be completely out of the question. If Theo napped, even for 30 minutes, he would not be able to go to bed on time which would then just continue into a cycle of late nights leading to early mornings and a tired, grumpy boy.

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Theo was really sleeping in this picture. 

A few months before his third birthday Theo was completely potty trained but continued to pee the bed. It was literally every night so he had to wear pull ups to bed. Because of the fact that Parker had never peed his bed once since he was potty trained, Josh and I were concerned for Theo. We went to his doctor about it and were told that it was completely normal for kids, especially boys, to wet the bed for years. Actually, he said 75% of all 3 year old boys consistently pee during their sleep.

Everything about Theo’s sleep habits have continued on since then. Over the years, it has become a joke that he’s narcoleptic because he always falls asleep in random places. In the car, in the middle of the floor, while laying on his face, at the movie theater, you name it. But he continues to wake up in the early hours of the morning and can not take long or consistent naps.

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We had a major breakthrough though, in the beginning of April, when he suddenly stopped peeing the bed. It was literally one week after he turned 5 so we just figured he must have finally outgrown it, like 3 different doctors had told us he would. He was so proud to be able to wear undies to bed and went an entire 2 MONTHS without having an accident. This is huge because up until this point the longest he had gone without peeing in his sleep was 2 days. But low and behold, last week he peed the bed. At first I didn’t think anything of it because it had been so long since he had, but night after night it has continued and once again, we’re concerned.

I really believe it has to do with his sleep issues. His resurgence in wetting the bed began when my sister arrived for her week long visit which of course meant that our normal routine was thrown off, including Theo’s sleep schedule. I’m hoping that as he gets caught up on sleep, the bedwetting will stop again. However, after Googling childhood sleep disorders I really believe that he has some form of insomnia. Symptoms include trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking too early in the morning, feeling irritable, tired and restless throughout the day, and bedwetting. One suggestion to help alleviate the problem is to establish a nightly routine which, funny enough, is what helped us to get him to sleep as a baby. Right now, we kind of have a routine but I think maybe creating something that is more solid and relaxing could help him. I think we’re going to start cutting out television after dinner and replacing it with this fun little journal idea that I found on Pinterest. We’re also going to try our hardest to make sure he is in bed by 6:30 every night. If we still don’t see any difference from implementing a few changes to our bedtime routine, we’re going back to the doctor to see what the next step is. We have to get this figured out and under control before the little guy heads off to Kindergarten this fall. If anyone has any suggestions for a better sleep routine, I’d love to hear them!

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One thought on “Childhood insomnia

  1. This reminds me if Alec all the way! I think Alec’s has more to do with his ADHD, but he has has had trouble going to sleep from early on and your pictures remind me many I have if him. It seemed to get harder for him as he got older, plus him ring on medication. Our doctor in NY suggested us to try melatonin, which helped. It’s natural but easy to over use. Alec is old enough to know now when he needs it. Alec was also a problem with bed wetting until the age of 9, sometimes he would go nights with put wetting and then sometimes it was every night. He would jut sleep though it too. Again a doctor in NY told us to cut all liquids but water after 4. With 6:30 being his bedtime I would probably cut even earlier. I was surprised but this really helped!! In our house they get one cup I juice (if we have it) one cup if milk and then water the rest of the day.

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