My 8 Year Old Can’t Get to Sleep. What Can I Do?

My 8 Year Old Can’t Get to Sleep. What Can I Do?

Some children are always way too worried that they can’t seem to catch any sleep. About 30% of school going children stay awake at night as they find trouble catching some sleep. In such cases, anxiety is usually the most common culprit.

child in bed awake

If kids can’t sleep, it tends to affect the entire household turning it into a cranky mess. Here are some different ways that will help put an end to the worries and allow everyone to have a restful night.

The main cause of worry in children is the fear of not being able to catch some sleep with some worrying about it hours before retiring to bed. Some children wake up in the wee hours of the night and get in a panic especially when they realize it’s hard to fall asleep again and this makes them stay up all night. Although this is irrational thinking, trying to reason out with the kid in such a scenario is quite challenging.

You can instead choose to break the cycle of worry as it helps the child learn to catch sleep at night. This skill will last a lifetime once they master it. Give some of these techniques a try and let others know what worked for your child and help others too.

Pillow Talks

Pillows talks are very important – Snuggle beside the child or just sit on the bed and let them tell you anything that comes to mind. Be firm when you say something so that you don’t have to keep repeating yourself. Avoid giving into the child’s whining.

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Let the child know that you are only spending sometime with them but don’t overstay. Let the child do the talking and listen to them. A listening parent will sometimes help the child solve their worries by themselves. Affirm the child when you get the chance from time to time giving them wise words and they see you as a hero.

Self-Regulate Bedtime

Let children self-regulate their bedtime – You only job is putting the kids to bed and not forcing them to fall asleep. However, ensure to keep a constant wake up routine using the alarm clock. If the child can’t fall asleep, allow them to carry their books to bed. The lights in the bedroom should be off or dim when on. Get the clip-on LED light for reading if the child wants to read in bed.

Reduce Screen Tim

Reduce or eliminate screen time before bedtime – Don’t let the child any digital devices an hour or two before bed. The screens usually emit a blue light known to inhibit melatonin release in the body naturally.

Use Melatonin

Consider melatonin – If you want to get the child’s sleep cycle on track, consider using melatonin supplements for a while. Melatonin is produced by the body naturally giving us that sleepy feeling.


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Besides, you can always trick the body into melatonin release by dimming the lights or blocking it right before retiring to bed. Melatonin will help your child fall asleep but doesn’t work well for those who usually wake up at midnight.

Using melatonin supplements also comes with limitations and risks which is why you need to consult a doctor before use.

Sleeping with Dolls

Teach your kids not to worry too much – Guatemala has this tradition where they teach young children to give away their worries to the colorful dolls known as trouble or worry dolls. Children usually talk to the dolls and tell them their worries then put them under the pillow. The child can then sleep peacefully and let the doll worry about the problems.

child sleeping with doll

These dolls are sold online at affordable prices so you can get one for your child or alternatively borrow the same idea when your child is worried. Besides, you can use an animated object that you already have in the house.

Observe a Routine

Routine – All school going children need bedtime routines. If you find what works well for the family, don’t change it.

Bedtime Stories

Avoid skipping bedtime stories – Bedtime stories usually help refocus the child’s mind positively in an imaginary world thus eliminating all their worries.

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Reading out also helps improve their vocabulary and is also ideal for development plus, bedtime is the right time to read them stories. Get an interesting book that everyone in the family will love.

Avoid Stimulants

Eliminate stimulants – Avoid energy drinks and caffeinated liquids such as chocolate milk and cocoa. Sleeplessness and anxiety are typically side effects of some medications including ADHD and over-the-counter prescriptions. Seek medical attention before changing your child’s medication if you feel they are sleep-depriving.

Reduce Fluids Intake

Regulate intake of fluids – Waking up in the middle of night to use the restroom is a common cause of sleep disturbance. Ensure your child doesn’t not take a lot of fluids some hours before bedtime and also encourage them to use the bathroom before retiring to bed.

Consult a Doctor

Consult your pediatrician – Your pediatrician will rule out any medical causes of anxiety and sleeplessness including side effects from medication, snoring, sleep apnea and allergies among others. The doctor can prescribe some anxiety medications and also treat uncomplicated symptoms without referring you to a psychiatrist. The pediatrician can recommend you to various sleep centers for other different tests including sleep study.

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