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Sleep problems and kids with tics


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Hello everyone,

I am hoping to get some advice (or at least commiseration). Background: My son, who’s 5, started having both motor and vocal tics 7 months ago at age 4.5. We haven’t gotten an official TS diagnosis because it hasn’t been a full year yet, but I expect he will meet the criteria for it. He has sleep problems for most of his life, but they’ve been worse in the past couple years.

His biggest struggle is staying asleep, not so much falling asleep initially. He often wakes multiple times during the night and frequently can’t go back to sleep. He tosses and turns for hours even if we lie next to him. Or he wakes very early for the day, like 4am. On his good nights he’ll sleep 7-8 hours straight, which is “good” for us but I know that still isn’t enough for a child his age. He truly just can’t sleep. He’ll even ask, “mom, how do you fall asleep? I can’t do it.”

I now understand his sleep issues are connected to his tic disorder (although he doesn’t tic while sleeping or falling asleep that I have seen). I see how his tics (and behavior/mood) are worse when he gets less sleep, and I want him to sleep better so badly. My husband and I are exhausted too. We’ve worked so hard the past 7 months to improve his diet and overall health, but we can’t *make* him sleep, and I feel that is probably a major missing piece in the puzzle of trying to minimize his symptoms.

Has anyone else experienced this? Anyone know of any supplements or ideas that work to improve sleep for TS kids? I’ve tried melatonin (didn’t help and gave him nightmares), we already do lots of magnesium, a nightlight, and have a good calming bedtime routine. Is it worth taking him for a sleep study?so far doctors have been dismissive about it or suggested it’s more of a discipline issue. Or is this just part of TS and not much we can do?

Thank you so much for any insight.

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Our Integrative doctor recommended very low dose melatonin  300 MICROgrams after dinner. It really helped and we only needed short term use as my son's sleep pattern improved. But he was already 10yo so I am really not sure for a child of 5. If you used a higher dose, that may have been the problem?

Our doctor warned us against Valerian for a young child although said ok for adults. Passiflora (from Passion Flower plant) is also used by some people, but again I have no idea re a very young child like yours.

There are also soothing essential oils that can be diffused or in some cases applied (check first re application as not all essential oils  can be used topically, some should only be diffused or inhaled. They can sometimes have a very soothing effect and promote good sleep.

My son has always found an Epsom Salts warm bath very helpful for sleeping soundly.

Chamomille tea is great for relaxing and sleep, and can even be used in infants from what we were told.

I'm sure there are a lot of other natural sleep remedies, but those are some we found helpful.

PS When there was agitation etc resulting from not being able to sleep, we used a few drops of Bach's Rescue Remedy (Flower Remedy) under the tongue, which is an instant calming agent, but again do check re age before use.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I just posted myself here for the first time starfish and we have a 9 year old with sleep issues who developed tics on the weekend. He has also been having headaches and other things going on. I will watch the replies here with earnest also if that's ok! But I feel your concern and hope we both have answers for our little ones soon.


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