View Full Version : Nightmares/Trouble Sleeping


MommysBears
05-05-14, 07:27 AM
My dd is 7 and she takes 10mg of Focalin XR (started in late March). About 3-4 times a week she either has trouble falling asleep or has nightmares at night and wakes me up frequently. I mentioned it to her ped psychiatrist but he shrugged it off as normal for a 7 year old. I'm debating calling him again. On the one hand she never had trouble falling asleep before taking the focalin but on the other hand if the focalin was causing nightmares I would think it would happen every night.

Anyway, we're leaving lights on and the door open to her room. She has nightlights galore and even calming sounds playing when she tries to fall asleep. Last night she woke me up 5 times complaining that her nightmares were so bad she didn't want to fall asleep again. She is seeing shadows on the wall, hearing noises. Typical kid stuff but I can't figure out if the focalin is causing this or if it's a phase she is going through. Any advice?

Tmoney
05-05-14, 09:40 AM
Does she remember what the nightmares are about!

Is her bed time ritual the ame as it has always been? Did anything change?
Brush teeth, go to th bathroom, prayers, and maybe a story. A happy cheerful story book with a happy ending might help to put her mind at ease before bedtime.
Happy thoughts! Maybe even a dream catcher over the bed!

Has her diet changed before bed time, other than the medicine?

MommysBears
05-05-14, 02:09 PM
Thanks for responding! Nothing has changed. We've had the same brush teeth, bathroom, nice stories, tuck in with nightlights and sounds routine for years. It's really a mystery! My oldest has a dream catcher in her room. I'll try borrowing it for a few days and see if it breaks the cycle.

As far as the nightmares, she only tells me that something is in her room and trying to get her. One night she told her Dad to check the closet (it must be closed) and then she hid behind him while he opened the door. Suddenly her imagination has gone wild.

eats_mice
05-05-14, 02:22 PM
What do you believe about spiritual things?

MommysBears
05-05-14, 04:34 PM
What do you believe about spiritual things?

I believe I'll hang anything in her room if it helps her sleep! :giggle: If she thinks it works, that's all that matters.

LynneC
05-06-14, 06:13 AM
Have you tried melatonin to help her fall asleep? All the lights/nightlights on might be making it more difficult for her to stay asleep once she is asleep. (just a thought)

My son also has scary dreams and wakes easily and this is exacerbated by stimulant medication. One thing that seems to ease his mind is that I tell him I will come and check on him after 15 minutes, as long as he stays in bed. This seems to reassure him enough that he falls asleep more easily. If he is still awake I tell him I will check on him again in 15 minutes...

MommysBears
05-12-14, 11:53 AM
We tried Melatonin and it worked the first night but then the next 3 nights she had any more horrific nightmares and was convinced someone was in her room trying to take her. I don't let her watch the news so I don't know where that came from.

I talked to the psych this morning and he wants us to take the Focalin away for the next three nights and see if we notice a difference.

MommysBears
05-13-14, 08:36 AM
So last night she fell asleep much faster but still woke up with nightmares. I'll go one more day without meds but then on Thursday we're giving them back. She told me this morning on the way to the bus that she missed her medicine and she had trouble focusing yesterday at school. Then she made me laugh and said I wonder what kind of magic is in those pills :).

insert a name
05-13-14, 10:06 AM
I mean, when I was a kid I wouldn't be able to fall asleep and I didn't take the medication yet. Waking up after you fall asleep as a kid doesn't sound normal though. Waking up 5 times at night is even more alarming. I'm not a doctor, but I think its common sense that a child needs their full nights sleep and shouldn't have it interrupted at all.

When I would take the medication when I was about 18-20, I would have really bad nightmares too. Even worse when I took Strattera. It was almost impossible to stay asleep on Strattera for me and I would wake up with nightmares 6-8 times a night.

If you don't mind me asking, what time do you give her the medication? I would guess that this is a result of the medication being taken too late in the day or at too high of a dosage. This is at least what I've experienced and when I've had nightmares.

MommysBears
05-13-14, 12:05 PM
She takes her meds at 8am and she goes to bed at 9pm. The Dr. said Focalin only lasts 8 hours so it should be out of her system long before bedtime. She definitely needs a lot of reminders around dinner time so I assume that is when it is trailing off. I have considered waking her up early and giving her meds an hour earlier.

insert a name
05-14-14, 09:42 AM
She takes her meds at 8am and she goes to bed at 9pm. The Dr. said Focalin only lasts 8 hours so it should be out of her system long before bedtime. She definitely needs a lot of reminders around dinner time so I assume that is when it is trailing off. I have considered waking her up early and giving her meds an hour earlier.


Hmm... everyone's body is different though. My body generally processes medications way too fast. The best extended release medication lasts me 4-5 hours max. I would assume that some people may have their medications lasting longer at times, or at least some side effects too. If that is the case, I would closely monitor her from 6-9 when the medication is supposed to wear off and maybe see how much energy she has.

Also, it says that insomnia is a side effect of just about every stimulant medication. 8 hours is the effective time that is expected for the medication HOWEVER, the medication's half life is around 4 hours. This means that some of it can still be in her system while she sleeps regardless of if it is in its effective period or not. Even though she may not feel like the medication is working, it might still be in her system with enough to give her nightmares and keep her awake.

Hope I can help a bit.

MommysBears
05-15-14, 09:11 PM
We gave her back her meds yesterday morning. She said school was just frustrating without her medicine. Last night she slept all night no problems. We'll see what tonight is like. It's inconsistent so I'm hoping it's a phase.

Sillyparty1976
05-19-14, 11:31 PM
We tried Melatonin and it worked the first night but then the next 3 nights she had any more horrific nightmares and was convinced someone was in her room trying to take her. I don't let her watch the news so I don't know where that came from.

I talked to the psych this morning and he wants us to take the Focalin away for the next three nights and see if we notice a difference.

Could sleep paralysis be a possibility? It's basically a kind of dream that is really scary, not dangerous or a sign of anything bad, but you really do feel like someone is in the room trying to do you harm. (with a totally reasonable psychological explanation to this.)

Per Wikipedia: Several circumstances have been identified that are associated with an increased risk of sleep paralysis. These include insomnia and sleep deprivation, an erratic sleep schedule, stress, overuse of stimulants, physical fatigue, as well as certain medications that are used to treat ADHD.

I talk to my son about his dreams sometimes, he hasn't mentioned anything resembling sleep paralysis, but he does have some scary dreams. I tend to try to ask him questions that aren't leading.

You could ask her what she feels like when she's having the dream, (without asking "can you move") ask her if she tries to say anything (you'll often try to call out but you can't talk in the dream) And I think I've read that they usually take place closer to when you falls asleep or when you're gonna wake up, so does she experience them in the morning, middle of the night, etc.

I've personally had many of these kinds of dreams, I believe they became less scary after I'd understood what the dreams actually were. How they functioned physiologically and psychologically. They've gone from scary to simply "stressful." Like I can't wake up and it's stressing me out, instead of "it's really scary." Hope this helps.

From wikihow: Obviously, this is not the most pleasant type of dream experience, but is sleep paralysis dangerous? No. Why? Because it is an ordinary human condition. It's a protection mechanism, which prevents us from acting out in our dreams as we sleep. After falling asleep, the brain's signal to muscles is blocked, and therefore we do not move our physical body as we dream about it.

http://www.wikihow.com/Cope-with-Sleep-Paralysis

Hope this helps!!!!!

MommysBears
05-21-14, 08:41 PM
I appreciate everyone's help. The last three nights we left her closet light on and the door 1/2 open. She hasn't had any problems since. Now I have no idea how she sleeps in a room with that much light but I'm hoping this is a phase she will outgrow soon.

That is very interesting about sleep paralysis. I'm prone to nightmares and I've had them since I was a child. My imagination doesn't kick in until I sleep.