It has been over a year since I first blogged about Hannie B. and her struggles with sleep anxiety, which you can read about here. I think it’s time for a little update on my girl wonder.
First, can we talk for a minute about the fact that she steals my phone all the time to take funny pictures of herself. Or sometimes pictures of she and Owlie. This weekend she thought it was time to teach our little guy the proper way to take a selfie. I have seven more pictures like this on my phone – just with lips doing different things. She makes me smile.
The update is this: Hannie B. is making amazing strides related to her sleep anxiety! I wish we could pinpoint one final solution that helped her think clearly and move forward, but in reality it has been a combination of many things.
First, we consulted our pediatrician who suggested two things: a melatonin supplement at night and a therapist. The melatonin has been helpful. For the first six to seven months Hannie B took one 3 mg pill each night about a half an hour before her “getting ready for bedtime”. Notice I didn’t say bed time. That’s because our therapist recommended that we abolish the word bedtime for our daughter and also remove any clocks from her room. The idea of having a set bed time was stressing her out. And having a clock staring her in the face, reminding her that she was not in bed asleep yet didn’t help either.
Hannie B has adopted a very set routine for getting ready for bed. This is to help her body and mind fall into the groove of night time and realize “Hey, I do this every night.” She washes her face, brushes her teeth, sets out an outfit for the next day, reads her scriptures, prays and comes down to tell us good night. Most night this routine really helps her to calm down and relax. Every night is not perfect though, which is totally okay. We’ve noticed she gets more anxious when there is something really big the next day like a test or field trip.
On the nights when it isn’t going well, I usually go in and talk to her about her worries. We think rationally (well, I do) until we can wrap our brains around reality and then I tell her it’s all good and she should go to sleep. There have only been four or five nights this school year where she’s been a crying mess. That is a HUGE improvement from last year at this time when it was happening almost EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
We have tapered her off of the melatonin because there aren’t many studies that show the long term effects of melatonin use in teenagers. She does pretty well without it and will take a pill if she is struggling significantly with sleep on a particular night.
One last big help for Hannie B has been physical exercise. When she was playing volleyball twice a week she slept the best. Now she’s not doing a sport but will go for a run or a bike ride to get rid of all her nervous energy and tire her body out a bit.
I’m really proud of my daughter. This is the first major struggle she’s faced in her life. It will not be the last. She will most likely deal with sleep issues for the rest of her life. There will be other trials bigger than sleep. She has approached it in a manner that is admirable: she’s asked us for help, she’s been willing to listen to professionals and incorporate their methods and advice into her life and she’s relied on God to help make up the difference.
So that’s the update. She’s a funny girl! And I’m lucky she’s mine.