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    Our 7-year old middle son, Who has ADHD+ & High-Functioning ASD, is dealing with increased anxiety at night and going to sleep later than his siblings.

    I believe sleep is important for the children. We do have a start time in the morning, but currently it's set at 9:00.

    His attention for learning is poor and his behaviors are exaggerated when I wake him before 11:00am.

    Clearly, there are multiple issues: 1) Sleep schedule and 2) Anxiety.

    We are just beginning our formal fall school schedule (we moved). We've been on a gentle routine with music classes and practice.

    Combine his unusual sleep patterns with the needs and personality of my oldest boy (who wants to get up and, "do school!") and my rambunctious youngest who is consistently getting into trouble, it is hard to create the beautiful, ordered day I so appreciate!

    I hope this explanation isn't too scattered.

    I'm so close to the situation I just can't see clearly!
    DD (16) Independent Study (Greek, Piano, Voice)
    DS (12) SC4 ADD, Dyslexia
    DS2 (9) SC1 ADHD, ASD
    DS3 (6) SCC

    We have had many sleep issues with my son. (Anxiety is his “only” current dx, but I suspect more is going on). Is he on any medication? We had to give our son anxiety meds. We also give melatonin to all of our kids. (My doctor suggested the melatonin for a few years before we finally “gave in” one night after many nights of up until 11pm, no matter what time we tried to put him to bed.). When he was 3-4, I had to watch him because he would fall asleep, randomly at 4pm and then be up until forever. This set him on an unpredictable pattern.

    The melatonin was a life changer for us. I hesitated because I did read about using it in children and some downsides, but we could not continue on our path of random sleep times ( no matter how consistent the bedtime routine was). I do know consistent wake time is also vital, but at least 1 child needs to sleep as long as she needs to sleep, so I do not wake her, ever, if possible! My son can actually sleep too much, so I will wake him if needed.

    Good luck!

    DD1 8/23/09 -Mix of MP 6/7
    DS2 9/1/11 - Mix of SC 7/8 and SC 9/10 (R&S 5, FFL)
    DD3 2/9/13 -SC 5/6

    Previous Years
    DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4, Mix of MP3/4, Mix MP5/6
    DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, AAR/Storytime Treasures), CLE Math, Mix of MP3/4, MP5 (literature mix of SC 7/8/MP5)
    DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK, AAR), MP1, MP2


      We've been blessed in this regard. We adhere to a lot of strict rules regarding good sleep habits. First and foremost, we shut off all screens 4hrs before bed. The data are conclusive in this regard on blue light exposure and the brain. Asking a kid to fight biology is unfair, so if this is an issue, aggressively pursue it. Second, consider limiting evening sports and practices that hamper bed time. Our little guy only has one day a week where he has music class until 7pm., and we make sure he bathes and eats dinner before he goes. We're not afraid to serve dinner at 4:30 in order to make certain afternoon classes happen. Every once in a while, we'll top him off with a banana and almond milk before 1 book, teeth brushing, prayers and bedtime stories (he likes a made-up story told to him as part of his wind down routine). Also, don't be tempted to have a different wak up time. Consistent wake-up times help with everyone being tired at the same time. We do heavy physical activity in the morning and early afternoon, but we cap rowdiness 2 hrs before bed.

      Also, ask your doctor about Melatonin. I have heard it works wonders for some. It gave me vivid dreams and nightmares when I took it years ago. I have read this is a common side effect, but that not everyone has it.
      Mama of 2, teacher of 3
      Summer: First Start French I
      SY 22/23
      6A, teaching TFL & CC Chreia/Maxim in group, and Koine Greek
      MP2 w/ R&S Arithmetic 3

      Completed MPK, MP1, MP2, 3A, 4A, 5A
      SC B, SC C, SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1


        I agree with melatonin. Although we use it to re-set routines, not a daily medication type thing. We use it to get into the routine of good sleep cycles, but I don't want my kids to think they "need" to have it in order to sleep. My niece takes melatonin nightly and she no longer believes she can sleep without it. She's 8. She needed to spend the night with us unexpectedly and she couldn't function without her night time cocktail. She has no diagnosis, nor previous sleep struggles, her parents simply rely on it so that she goes to bed when they choose.

        Sounds like you have a good night routine. Double-check screen time. Ours time-off at 7pm. Bedtime is 9.

        What is he anxious about at night? Bad dreams? Sleeping solo? Weird shadows or noises? I've heard of some people using a spray mister with some lavender oil or other calming smell and to lightly mist the air to chase bad thoughts and dreams away, kind of like bug spray.
        DS12- Simply Classical mash-up of SC Spelling 1, intensive reading remediation, and MPOA 4th grade math.
        DD10- Classic Core 4th Grade w/ 5th grade literature
        DD8- Classic Core 2nd Grade

        We've completed:
        Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade
        Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5/6


          A lot of people have had a good response to melatonin. I actually had the opposite effect in that while I might fall asleep, I would wake randomly and sometimes permanently for the night, whether it was 5 am, 3am, or 12:30am. Anyone heard of 5-HTP? It's supposed to be a precursor to serotonin and melatonin - kind of like making the body have the building blocks to produce the chemicals on its own. That worked for me for a while. My nieces were put on melatonin (only 1 suspected of ADHD but not formally dx), and they too do not believe they can sleep without it now - they are 10 and 8.

          Actually, and this was mentioned by enbateau , What about high intensity physical activity very early in the day? I have a couple of night owls myself. About 4 weeks ago, I started getting them up between 6:45-7am, make them put on socks and shoes (they are still in pj's at this point and I don't care), and I make them start a HIIT workout (I found this one: We do this Mon-Fri as a group in the living room. There's a lot of whining in the first few minutes, but they do wake up pretty quick. It will force the body to those high levels of exertion and I can't explain it, but these same night owls are usually good and tired by 9:30 (bedtime is around 8:30) and fall asleep and stay asleep until the next morning. Prior to that, they were up until midnight or so. Now, the only days they are up late is Sat and Sun - the only 2 days we haven't done one. I kick them to the showers after and we start our school day around 9am and these kids are wide awake and ready to go. I like the morning because it's like giving a kid a cup of espresso. I don't want to know what it would do at night though. By the time we get to the evening, they don't have much left in the tank - and neither does Mama. Since we started this, I haven't needed a single thing to help me sleep either. I wonder if if's something about spiking the heart rate - not jut elevating it a bit like on an elliptical. It's a full on heart rate "my chest is actually starting to ache" spike. Does that "use up" some level of kid brand energy that allows (okay, forces) us to reset and sleep and heal? One other thing - after one morning of crazy intensity, my oldest with some serious food aversions was actually open to drinking a smoothie with ::gasp:: cantaloupe, banana, with a bit of orange juice, ice and water...and he loved it. This kid loathes fruit and vegetables. He even got mad that his baby sister wanted to finish his drink off.

          DS (MP4M) - 10
          DS (MP3A) - 8
          DS (1) - 7
          DD (Adorable distraction) 4


            Is this a new problem, or something that's gotten worse since your recent moves? Our 7 year old has had a lot of sleep difficulties and increased anxiety & stomach aches at night since we moved four weeks ago. I'm hoping it is a problem that will settle down as we continue to settle in. Hopefully that will be the case for your family too.

            We also use melatonin on occasion to reset sleep patterns. I also find the fall time change is very helpful for resetting the entire family to an earlier winter bedtime too.

            I am personally finding it very hard to find a new routine after a move. I would try to give yourself a lot of time before expecting to be able to follow a orderly schedule. Moving is a really hard transition, much harder even than a new baby's arrival.

            Are there any other specifics about your son's anxiety that you want to share?

            7th year with MP

            DS19, college freshman
            DS16, 10th
            DS & DD14, 9th
            DS10, 4th
            DD7, 2nd
            DS4, JrK
            DS & DS, 1


              Thank you for the helpful suggestions and for sharing all of the things you've tried as mothers.

              This has been a hard year for our family. We basically evacuated our home of 12 years because of toxic mold -in January- and lived in temporary spaces until a month ago. It took a long time to get settled (we are "just" getting there), as many of the items we put in storage that we thought were "safe" were in fact contaminated. So, we ended up depending on the generosity of others in order to set up our house.

              For any child this is alot. But for our sensitive 7-year old who already has so many challenges it definitely has impacted him!

              I dislike bringing up the "mold drama"?

              However, this is partly why I am being so cautious here with waking him. When he was about 5/6 years old, he would stay up but then wake up so early! The child was chronically sleep-deprived. So, in a way, I'm celebrating this sleeping 10-11 hours! However, I'd like to gently nudge him in a more "regular" rhymthm. All of the suggestions are very helpful!

              In terms of specific anxieties, they change. One night it's fear of robbers, another something he saw on the doctor's office tv (we are a no-tv family, computers are enough!), Right now it's scary Halloween things.

              ​​​​​​I appreciate what you said, Catherine, about moving. It's crazy stressfull and those comforting routines even seem a bit foreign the first week or two.

              DD (16) Independent Study (Greek, Piano, Voice)
              DS (12) SC4 ADD, Dyslexia
              DS2 (9) SC1 ADHD, ASD
              DS3 (6) SCC


                We haven't used melatonin, but instead, magnesium supplements for healthier sleep. We've done nature calm (powder you mix into a drink), or you could do magnesium oil spray, lotion, or a magesium foot soak.

                Other things to consider:
                White noise machine
                Sleep mask

                Also, do you think that his sleep issues/anxiety could have a medical basis? Meaning, was his health affected by the mold?
                Plans for 2022-23

                Year 12 of homeschooling with MP

                DD1 - 27 - college grad, bakery owner
                DD2 - 16 - 11th grade - HLS Cottage School - online classes, looking at dual credit - equestrian and theatre
                DS3 - 14 -7A Cottage School - soccer/tennis -dyslexia and dysgraphia
                DS4 -14 - 7A Cottage School -soccer/tennis -auditory processing disorder
                DD5 - 10- 5A, Cottage School - inattentive ADHD - equestrian and tumbling
                DS6 - 9 - MP 1 - home with momma



                  I use a white noise maker too - for everyone, Mama and Dad included. We use the "Lectrofan". There is one setting that has a much deeper sound. It does seem to drown out any house noises or outside noises. They make a big difference. Although I'm the only one to do it, I use a sleep mask and I can rarely fall asleep without it now.

                  Also, what about black out curtains? You can buy them pre-made or go to Joann's or your favorite craft store and buy the length in bulk and sew them yourself. That's what I did because we have really tall ceilings, and I actually wanted the curtains to drape along the floor to keep out as much light as possible.

                  DS (MP4M) - 10
                  DS (MP3A) - 8
                  DS (1) - 7
                  DD (Adorable distraction) 4


                    Hi Grace,

                    Our boys have a lot in common! High functioning ASD, ADHD, anxiety, big stressors, trouble getting to sleep because of anxiety. Even the fears you son’s biggest fears are robbers and ghosts.

                    We have tried everything we and OT and psychologist could think of.

                    Then we started melatonin...and it worked!

                    My son takes 6mg. We had weaned him to 4mg and plan to see what we can do to reduce over time (Paediatrician would like this too)...but I did increase again tonight because things were a little worse again last night, we are moving next week...tonight he went to sleep without any issues.

                    Honestly, while I don’t want my son to feel like he needs his melatonin to be able to sleep...I am so grateful that it works!

                    Praying for this sleeping issue to be resolved soon. It is difficult to be able to relax in the evening knowing a child is anxiously unable to can make an already demanding day feel that much harder.

                    Aussies from Sydney, Australia
                    Miriam 10yo
                    Jonathan 8yo
                    Elissa 5yo
                    Thomas 2yo
                    Caleb 2 months


                      Hi, Grace. Your 7yo's scenario happened with my daughter, also dx'd by 7 with ADHD and ASD. She became anxious at night, could not fall asleep, then slept very soundly very late the next day.

                      We already had the typical good routine in place. We knew the common-sense sleep hygiene protocols. I tried soothing stories, a calming bath before bed, no screens beyond late afternoon, and even lavender candles! My over-the-counter remedies proved fruitless. She simply could not fall asleep no matter how tired she (and we!) became. Then the next day we could not rouse her.

                      A top neurologist locally saved the day. He determined that she had Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. This is more than being a "night owl," but is rather due to a neurological difficulty, he told me. He had conducted an overnight EEG and sleep study, noted parasomnias and, brilliantly, Restless Leg Syndrome that indicated to him a possible anemia on top of it all. (Her pallor could have been a clue!) Subsequent bloodwork revealed anemia for which she began taking prescription ferrous sulfate.

                      For the sleep disorder he prescribed an extended-release, carefully controlled, prescription melatonin and suggested light therapy in the mornings. We invested in an intensely bright desk light by which she did her morning lessons. All of this was designed to reset her inner clock, he told us. And it did.

                      Today in addition to a host of various prescribed meds and prescribed supplements, we do all of these to promote sleep:

                      - Germ Guardian in her room, for the white noise, high filtration, & UV (we had mold issues here as well)
                      - Dark shade in the room
                      - Getting ready for bed with a predictable, calm routine
                      - No screens/blue light after dinner

                      But without the prescribed assistance, these would be insufficient for her. We know, because if we ever forget to give what has been prescribed, we have a reminder.

                      All this is to say that when your good, reasonable attempts seem futile, this can be diagnostic in itself. It might be time to investigate more fully.

                      In Simply Classical I mention our wonderful language therapist. I still remember when she said to me, "Michelle probably doesn't sleep well, does she?" (As a young mom at the time I marveled, "How did she KNOW?") She said, "Neurological challenges and sleep difficulties often go hand-in-hand." Ah, of course. And so they did for her. Some pediatric neurologists have good experience with sleep difficulties and autism, so you might consider starting there.

                      In the meantime, based on the good responses and suggestions you have received so far, you can know that this may not be due to the various moves solely, but rather to an issue common to many of us!


                        Thank you Cheryl, for sharing your experience with your daughter. What a blessing that the Pediatric Neurologist was able to uncover the source of her sleep challenges.

                        I am becoming exhausted trying to help my son with his sleep issues, it effects his younger brother especially who then will not sleep, etc. An unwelcome ripple effect!

                        We will try some intense calisthenics at the start of our day for a few days and continue easing back in to our evening routine. However, I will follow-up with our pediatric neurologist, too, because they did an EEG two years ago and maybe he can pull some information from that?

                        DD (16) Independent Study (Greek, Piano, Voice)
                        DS (12) SC4 ADD, Dyslexia
                        DS2 (9) SC1 ADHD, ASD
                        DS3 (6) SCC



                          Good Afternoon. I am back to give an update.

                          My middle son who has been sleeping in late in the mornings, is now waking around 7:30 each morning!

                          We really didn't change much. We have kept up with the routines most days but a few nights were off and he still woke up earlier the following morning.

                          The thing is....his behaviors. He's scaling the front of the house to the second floor balcony, being more "territorial" with his space, hitting, spitting much more and would not sit to do schoolwork for three days straight. He says he has "so much energy".

                          It's not that we didn't have any issues before, but that I'm seeing a resurgence of behaviors that I thought he had phased out of?

                          I'm looking at diet again but we have taken out 99.9% of gluten and casein. I'm reading The Kid Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook by Pamela Compart and Dana Laake.
                          Has anyone else read this?

                          Of course, I am assuming there are other components that I haven't addressed that are not food-related. Any brilliant observations?

                          DD (16) Independent Study (Greek, Piano, Voice)
                          DS (12) SC4 ADD, Dyslexia
                          DS2 (9) SC1 ADHD, ASD
                          DS3 (6) SCC


                            Sweet GraceEllen, I have no brilliant observations for you.

                            I do wonder whether you think this is to be expected given the recent changes or if your concern is that this might be the emergence of "something more?"

                            On one hand, he has had all of these:
                            - difficulty sleeping
                            - expressed anxiety
                            - various household moves
                            - mold exposure
                            - a new start to school just within the past two weeks.

                            Any of these can result in new behaviors.

                            On the other hand, what you describe may be more than a reaction to recent changes. If that is the concern, you might want to take him to your favorite in-person specialist/physician with all of the behaviors and concerns you're describing. If you do not have a favorite, it might be time to find one.

                            The good news is that his sleeping improved with just a little tweaking. Morning exercise can help reset things. Perhaps the morning exercise is giving him a little extra energy that he doesn't know how to expend. If so, you might work in some extra physicality (e.g., stand up/sit down responses) during academics. However, if he feels as if his mind is racing and he is still having difficulties sleeping, taking dangerous physical risks, being highly irritable, being aggressive, or otherwise expressing and demonstrating unusually high energy (even for a 7yo boy), this might warrant attention. Any and all family history of mood difficulties, mental illness, or "dysregulation" in any form would be good to include when you present your concerns, if you decide to investigate further.

                            I have not read the book you referenced, but we have found dietary changes important here. Even so, when one of our children is not well-regulated, a switch to almond milk, for example, will only accomplish so much.

                            Perhaps this will be another situation in which a simple tweak (e.g., adding more outdoor time or purposeful physicality) will help. Based on my experience with my own children, if you think you are seeing more than something minor or transitory, do not hesitate to seek help for him. If nothing else, a good appointment can rule out "something more" or possibly identify unexpected physical causes for what you are seeing.
                            Last edited by cherylswope; 10-18-2019, 12:06 PM.


                              Thank you, Cheryl!

                              We are looking into that "something more" and bringing more people onto our team in order to do that.
                              DD (16) Independent Study (Greek, Piano, Voice)
                              DS (12) SC4 ADD, Dyslexia
                              DS2 (9) SC1 ADHD, ASD
                              DS3 (6) SCC