Sleep Affecting School
Bedtimes were a trigger point for battles and stress as eight year old Oliver would refuse to go to bed and repeatedly reappear downstairs with a whole range of excuses; “I’m hungry, I need a wee, I have a headache…”
Jo, 38 year old, working mother of three children, was desperate for help with Oliver her 8 year old son’s sleep problem. As a baby Oliver had always had one of his parents in his bed with him as he fell asleep at bedtime, but over the last two years Jo had managed to encourage Oliver to stay in his bed by himself. However bedtimes were a trigger point for battles and stress as Oliver would refuse to go to bed and repeatedly reappear downstairs with a whole range of excuses; “I’m hungry, I need a wee, I have a headache….” Eventually Oliver would fall asleep when his parents came to bed, 10.30pm! Every day Jo had to literally drag Oliver out of bed to get him to school, and he spent the first few hours tired and grumpy.
Teachers at school were concerned about Oliver falling behind the rest of his class mates and his temper tantrums in the play ground. Oliver was expressing anxiety and fears over his inability to fall asleep at bedtime and how hard he was finding school work.
My husband and I dreaded the evenings as we had no time together and were spent arguing over Oliver’s sleep problems. I was desperate for help as I could feel Oliver’s behaviour getting out of control. Life in our household was very stressful and it was having an impact on my other children and my husband.
Oliver had always done very well at school, but we were finding ourselves regularly having meetings with the teachers about this behaviour in the class room and playground. The school wanted Oliver to be assessed by their Educational Psychologist. This was the catalyst I needed to get professional sleep help for Oliver and us. My GP suggested I contact Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic as she had seen great results using their child sleep services for her child.
Before our initial consultation we kept a sleep diary for a week so we could record what time Oliver fell asleep each night and woke in the morning, including weekends. We also filled in a sleep questionnaire with further details for our sleep therapist.Our first consultation was a conference call so both my husband and I could be involved. It was a relief that our sleep therapist, Mandy Gurney, had dealt with hundreds of children with sleep problems just like Oliver and we felt we were in safe hands.
Mandy suggested we needed to take the heat out of the bedtime routine as she said; this was causing Oliver anxiety that was raising his cortisol levels and stopping him falling asleep. We were to start a quiet bedtime routine focused around Oliver’s natural falling asleep time with a relaxation technique that we were to teach Oliver.
Amazingly the new steps of the bedtime routine worked very quickly and all of us stopped feeling stressed at bedtime. This helped Oliver to be more relaxed and he stopped coming back downstairs, he was actually asleep within minutes of me staying goodnight to him!
He was very tired at first but we gradually moved his sleeping time earlier and earlier and after six weeks he was happily falling asleep by 8.30pm.
My husband and I now have our relaxing evenings together and our lovely bright boy who can’t wait to get to school in the morning!
We can’t thank Millpond for turning all our lives around and our therapist enough for encouraging and supporting us through this.