My 8 year old daughter is normally whip smart, energetic,and on the ball, but since the xmas holidays finished she is sluggish and cannot concentrate at all like she used to. (She played on the computer all night after I put her to bed)I did notice she slept more during the day so I put a stop to this. She is falling asleep ok, but then wakes up after midnight and tries, but with no success to go back to sleep. I was not aware of this till now, when I asked her what was happening for her that she was so tired for the past 2 days since returning to school. She doesn't like to bother anyone and just stays in bed which makes me feel bad. Is it possible computer has affected her brain? Please help!
I've been a lifelong insomniac, and my son is just the same. Luckily, the same things that work for me help for him.
The number one prescription? 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every morning. Although I hate exercise, I've known for years that I need it to be alert, healthy and in a good mood during the day and to sleep well at night. I recently started including my 8-year-old son in my morning exercise and it has really improved his behavior, schoolwork and ability to go to sleep at night.
Limiting bright light and screen time in the evenings also helps --there's some research that the light that screens emit messes with some people's "sleep clock." I use a free app called f.lux on my own computer in the evenings, and don't allow my son on the computer in the evening at all. But exercise is far more important. I'd bet money your daughter has the same issue --the clue is that it became a problem when the weather got worse (and she quit spending time playing outside).
We all go through points in our life when sleep is hard to come by. She just needs to get back into her routine then she will be just fine. Remove the computer if you have to so there is no temptation NOT to sleep. Sometimes we have to be saved from ourselves. If she's getting up late she needs to go to bed earlier, it may take a few days or a week but she'll be fine.
If you want to give her a head start, no screens 2 hours before bed.
Her brain will be just fine.
My wife and daughter has sometimes hard times to fall to sleep. You said she is falling asleep ok.
You have to find out what things wakes her up.
- Ask questions. She is old enough to reflect her life. What kind of things pop into her mind during the night? Is it nightmares or something else?
- Change evening patterns. Some people sleep better during the night if they have some kind of physical exercise 2 hours before bed time. Walk around the block etc.
- Is she watching from tv something that comes to her dreams?
- What does she eat before bed? Too little, too much? You can try more vegetables, porridge, bread what ever...
- When she wakes up, are the thoughts keeping her up? Talking to her before bed time could solve that.
I recommend keeping sleeping diary with some notes. What did you do differently each evening and did she sleep ok? Remember that change isn't instant. Even if you find "perfect pattern" how to make her sleep better, there will be nights when she wakes up.
Do remember, sometimes people have hard time sleeping and it could be just some phase. Try to approach the issue from different angles to get best view.
I have had periods of insomnia since early childhood and still do now that I am in my sixties.
I would make sure there are no electronics in her bedroom. No TV, no phone or tablet, and no computer. In truth studies show that the light from devices does make sleep more difficult.LINK A good idea would be for her to take an hour before sleep without any electronics.
Reading and drawing are fine, but not homework. If she has a set bedtime, don't change it. She may need less sleep than you think. However, I liked my own child to give us some adult time so when she was eight, she was in her room at 8:30 and could sleep when she chose. When she was very young (4-5), she had to stay on her bed, but could keep the light on. I generally turned off lights as I went to bed and I'd find her asleep with her light on.
I also think that if the routine is set and there's no fight, your child will get to the place where she gets enough sleep to cope. I doubt I've ever slept more than 6 hours, but I meditate and 'drift' for an hour or so as well.
On Edit: For me, a colder bedroom helps. I prefer it to be dark, but your child may want some light -- even as little as from the clock display or lightswitch. I cover up the clock. I use a cold mist humidifier -- but note, these must be kept pristinely clean. I would not use any medication or anything not prescribed by a doctor for a child. I like white noise, it makes sure I don't hear distant fire engines or airplanes, but it is low enough that I can hear my daughter. White noise is a yes or no choice. Many people like it, many really don't. A fan makes white noise, but you can buy sound machines. link
You could teach an easy form of meditation, too.
Meditation exercise: Breathe in for a count of (I like 8) whatever. Hold breath for a count of (I like 12) whatever. Let out breath as slowly as possible (I like a count of 10) and repeat. If nothing else, it turns off my brain from thinking over anything else.
Insomniacs unite! :) I was a lifelong insomniac and ds1 too had sleeping problem. Fortunately for us, ds1's educational psychologist was also developmental psychologist with clinical interest in paediatric sleep disorders. She gave me a three step checklist, which really encompass many of the suggestions above from other posters, but putting it together as such may be easier to work through.
First check: sleep hygiene (really common sense) - regular bedtime, peaceful sleeping environment as required by the individual, regular outdoor time (sunlight), no blue screen near bedtime.
If the above is fulfilled and sleeping issues persist, you move on to the second check: health - most common problems are breathing problems. Check the sinus. Is she waking up with blocked sinuses, is she snoring lightly in the middle of the night, does she have a persistent night cough (possible asthma), is the room too dusty or too cold and dry resulting in irritation to the airways. Breathing problems compromise sleep quality and also lead to frequent waking in the middle of the night. A trip to the doctor is required for this.
Once the above is cleared, and sleeping issues persist, you move on to the third check: psychological Is she worried, bothered, upset about something? Persistent sleeping problems in this case will indicate a recurring issue (bullying, fear of standing in front of the class, fear of being called up by the teacher, worried about forgetting some homework). You need to identify the issue and address them. Some issues are easily addressed - eg forgetful child fear forgetting homework - organizational skills are required. Some need inner work - shy child fears getting called up by the teacher - you need to do mental rehearsals etc Some need external or specialist assistance - eg bullying may required both inner work to develop some resilience and also coopting assistance from teachers, maybe even changing schools; difficulties with social language can lead to daily frustrations and requires assistance from a language therapist to help child understand the social dance in school.
For emotional causes, a diary can be helpful as suggested by a previous poster. For a younger child, you can also do daily debriefing - before bedtime, ask the child how the day has been and this gives her a chance to unload emotionally before sleeping.
Additionals: For disrupted sleep cycles (eg due to holidays, travelling), you can consider using a melatonin supplement to help the child get back into the sleep cycle, and once the cycle is re-established, you can start to go without it.
what has worked for us:
- Applying coconut oil on centre of head, back of head
- Drinking coconut water
- Not using shampoo, but applying soap-nut (powder+water=) paste for head bath
- Drinking milk before going to bed
- Reading books while lying down just before sleep
- yoga, meditation
All the above are general home remedies which (1/2/more) can be experimented safely. Most likely they will work proving no problem in the brain.
I've found that Mindfulness Exercises are a good way to put you into a sleepy state. I personally imagine the thoughts that entering my head as paper messages which I crumple up and drop.
Another method is simply to go downstairs, do a simple routine chore that can be done in one place with little thought (cleaning the dishes is better than putting away clothes, for example).
The idea is to calm down your mind to the point where the tiredness kicks in.
Above all, she should not sit in bed reading a book or checking your phone. It is better for her to go downstairs and read there, then return after 10 minutes to an hour. The issue of light is debatable, but critically, you don't want any associations between the bedroom and mental activity.
If she has a computer in her room, move it to another private area, so there's a clear distinction between "computer room" and "sleep room".
The chances the computer has "affected her brain" is minimal. What is more likely is that staying up so late because she was having fun has messed with her body's sleep cycle, and she needs to retrain it.