Thyroid UK
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9 year old not going to sleep

This is an ongoing issue and may or may not be thyroid related so I’m just after a little advice. My daughter is 9 and has always had trouble dropping off to sleep. I’ve tried everything, no TV, tablets, sweets, reward charts, even a sleep therapist and nothing seems to work. Over the past 9 months or so she’s been getting gradually worse. I put her to bed at 8pm and she’s still awake at 10.30pm. Its then a battle to get her out of bed the following morning, so she’s not actually getting up till 8.20 & she is sooooo bad tempered. It’s like she’s not getting enough sleep but ‘they’ say 9-10 hours should be sufficient for a nine year old. I have had her to the GP years ago but was told ‘there’s nothing wrong with her’. However, I’ve been reading up on this, as I thought it could be vitamin deficiency. However, I came across an article that mentioned a link with this problem with anaemia, hypo or diabetes.

I’m going to make an appointment with the GP but I’m not really sure what I’m asking them. Do I ask for blood tests? If so which ones?

Apologies if this isn’t relevant but I’m at my whit’s end and really don’t know what to do to help her.

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Ask GP to test TSH, FT4 FT3 and Thyroid antibodies vitamin D, ferritin, folate and B12

Low vitamin D and low B vitamins may be linked to insomnia.

drgominak.com/sleep/vitamin...

See if you can get GP to test, even if it's only to put your mind at rest

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Thanks Slowdragon, I'll do that

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If it’s any help I used to put my two boys (41 and 38 now) to bed at a reasonable bed time 7.00 - 7.30.

Once they were in bed I ignored them, basically I didn’t care what they did - well within reason - or when they finally fell asleep, as long as they were quiet and didn’t come down or call out or disturb my husband and I in any way.

Saying that there were no such things as TVs in their bedrooms or electronic gadgets like iPads, mobile phones etc back in those days and I don’t use them myself before I go to sleep so I wouldn’t let her use that sort of thing. Let her read ‘proper’ books or draw.

I’d had my boys all day and much as I loved them dearly I was tired and I did not want their company in the evening.

I would go for something like that. Tell her you don't want to see or hear her again once she’s gone up to bed. I mean if she was ill then that would be different but if she’s been fed and watered then she goes to bed and that’s that. If she doesn’t need the sleep she doesn’t and you can’t make her. Sleep just becomes a big thing as you are finding out.

In the morning just tell her she has to get up when it’s time to get up for school. That’s the rule and I would insist on that. Everybody else in her class does. It’s only for five mornings. If it’s holiday time then it doesn’t matter. As you’ve found out, you can’t make her go to sleep - just cut communication with her completely once she’s gone to her room. Try not to let her see it bothers you although she has probably figured that out by now.

Your post reminds me a lot of when my older son was a toddler he wouldn’t eat. I got in a panic like you and your sleeping situation. Some days my kitchen sink was filled to the brim with the plates and bowls and pans I had used to try and make something for him to eat. It was grinding me down.

My health visitor was a very ‘old-school’ lady. She said he was quite healthy looking so I should ignore him! She said make lunch etc for yourself, nothing for him and if he wants something give him a bit of what you are having.

I was shocked to say the least but after a week or so of that - he was demanding his lunch too and he ate what I made for him.

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This is great advice, if i hadn’t tried all this already 😩

As I said we’ve tried EVERYTHING including therapists.

We’re going down the medical & maybe physiological route now to see if there’s anything underlying.

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Good luck with it all, it’s going to be an uphill struggle if your GP says there’s nothing wrong with her.

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I think her adrenals might need investigation. Being unable to get to sleep at night, and unable to wake up in the morning, are signs of flagging adrenals.

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Thanks greygoose, I’ll mention it to the GP 👍🏻

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You're welcome.

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As someone whose sleeping problems started at age 9, and made my school, university and working life 50 times harder than they needed to be, can I just say please don't give up trying to find the cause and a cure. When my sleep problems first started I would be sent to bed between 8pm and 9pm and I would get to sleep at 3am - 4am.

With hindsight I have found out my sleeping problems were most likely caused by my thyroid and my adrenals even at the age of 9, and they have continued for nearly 50 years.

In my case my cortisol was probably high. As a 13 year old I looked like I had Cushing's Syndrome.

I also developed a condition called misophonia (completely unrecognised by anyone at that time, and hardly known about now) at about the same time the sleeping problems began, and it made me foul-tempered in the morning to an extreme degree. In my case the problem was caused by being woken up by or hearing radios and human speech as I woke up. I finally grew out of it (or learned to overcome it) in my late 20s or early 30s.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misop...

If your daughter wakes up to a clock radio or a TV, try removing anything from her bedroom that makes a sound. Then when she is woken in the morning, try and do it without making any noise at all. If it makes her better-tempered, then you need to identify what the sound is that causes it. I realise it would be a bit far-fetched to suggest your daughter's problems are exactly like mine though, so the misophonia could be a total red herring.

Another thing that caused me to be foul-tempered (as an adult) was gluten. I don't have coeliac disease - I've been thoroughly tested. When I finally gave up eating gluten as an experiment my foul temper vanished.

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Brilliant, than you so much. I remember being exactly like her when I was younger now & im hypo now. I’m not keen to have her labelled with ADHD so I want to explore all possibilities. X

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Please don’t give up trying to sort her sleep, that’s really bad advice. Sleep is absolutely vital for a child’s brain development (and crucial for adults’ physical and mental health too) so it’s important that you resolve it rather than ignore it. And “it’s only five nights”!! Wow! Have a read of the book “Why we sleep” written by a neuroscientist who specialises in sleep - it explains the need for sleep and how important it is for development, and physical and mental health. And it also explains that you do not get over ONE bad night of sleep even after THREE good nights so a weekend of good sleep will not correct the damage done by 5 nights of bad sleep. It’s an amazing if slightly terrifying book but a must read for everyone I think.

Another interesting thing it talks about with regard to your post are about larks and owls (and apparently there’s an in between early evening crowd too!). You are wired to be in one of these groups and you can’t change that - fighting it (as most owls have to do) leads to a sort of permanent jet lag and unsurprising owls are at greater risk of physical health problems like heart disease and stroke. Sleep patterns change throughout the human lifespan though and I am not sure when the lark/owl thing becomes apparent.

I don’t know if your daughter has any other behavioural issues but children on the autistic spectrum have difficulty sleeping often because their melatonin doesn’t rise and fall, it stays the same. Might not saying your daughter is ASD but might be worth checking melatonin levels if the other tests don’t come up with anything.

Good luck.

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Thanks MiniMum

We had parents evening at school today & teacher mentioned ADHD but hasn't picked up on anything at school. But she did say that girls often hide it better than boys. We're booked in with the GP on Monday so we'll see where we go from there. I'm feeling like such a bad parent at the moment, she's so grumpy & rude but I know it's because she's so tired.

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Like humanbean, I had severe sleep problems from around 8 years old. I remember just lying in bed in the dark trying so hard to go to sleep but couldn't. At age 29 I was diagnosed with hypothyroid but in fact it's Hashimoto's Thyroiditis as I had/have one thyroid antibody raised. I'm now 66, and looking back I can see all the signs from when I was a child. Bad tempered, chubby in a peculiar way, went off into a daydream in class, liked being on my own as hated noise, etc.

I would really recommend that you push your GP for the tests recommended by SlowDragon. Also, if you do manage to argue for them all, after the blood tests you should return to the GP surgery and request a copy of the results from the reception. GPs tend to say "all fine, all within range" but they often are not. She is your daughter, you are entitled to have copy of those blood tests. If admin/reception say No, then ask to speak to the Practice Manager. Then write a post quoting them for advice. I do feel for your daughter, it's not a pleasant place to be when a young girl.

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Many thanks. I’m determined to get to the bottom of this. X

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My niece has similar issue. All of her tests came back clear. On some nights when I babysit her and her mum is at work I've been giving her small amount of tryptophan which is an essential amino acid. It is considered safe to use for children from age of 3 from what I read. The dosage would have to be adjusted according to the child's weight. 1000mcg is a dose for a 150 pound adult person.

It can be mixed with warm milk or cocoa and given about hour or so before bed. Whenever she has some she falls asleep quicker, sleeps through the whole night, moves less during sleep and is more eager to wake up and go to nursery.

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