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An Interesting Sleep Aid

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Sleep is so important and many of the kids that we work with have a lot of difficulty with sleep. I will tell you about Lucy, a teenager, who started having trouble falling asleep. It can take her upwards of four hours to fall asleep, and the quality of sleep that she has is variable. There is not one specific trick that has been found to solve the problem completely, but there are several different things that help different aspects of the sleep problem. Together the little tricks can cut the time it takes to fall asleep as well as increase the quality of the sleep.

This teenager is able to describe in detail what the problems are and she can then verbalize whether the things that we tried were helpful or not. We first had to analyze what was keeping her from falling asleep, then we tried to figure out what may help those problems. We finally tried some solutions until we found a combination that worked the best.

Things keeping her from falling asleep:

  • Restless legs. A compulsion to move the legs, and if she resists the compulsion, her legs start tingling and feeling funny. Moving the legs makes them feel right again.
  • Tinnitus. Hearing sound in the ears, which is distracting.
  • Anxious thoughts. Thinking about school and other things.

When analyzing the sleep problem, we tried to think of a solution, or multiple solutions for each problem area. Below I will list the things that worked for her.

Compression socks:

For the restless legs, having to move your legs keeps you from going to sleep. We needed something that would decrease that tingling sensation when the legs were not moved. Compression socks come in three strengths of light, medium, and firm. We went straight to the firm, which helped the problem and she was able to fall asleep easier, but they were too tight for all night and she had to pull them off in the middle of the night. We then tried the medium socks (referral) and they were just right for sleep. It is important for someone to be able to verbalize if there is a problem, such as the socks being too tight for sleeping.

Weighted Blanket:

The weighted blanket  (referral) works on a similar concept as the compression socks, but for the whole body rather than just the legs. It can be calming and soothing to have the extra weight on you and it was also helpful with falling asleep.

White noise machine:

The tinnitus is only a problem for this teenager at night when all the other sounds are gone. You can use a white noise machine, or you could use a fan. There are also apps that will play white noise for you so that you could use your phone when traveling.

Sleep supplements (vitamins), tea, essential oils, etc.

It is very hard to quiet the mind for sleep, so you may need to use multiple things that help. A soothing routine, chamomile tea, melatonin, and reading are some things to try. We also tried Olly Restful Sleep Gummies (referral). They have a combination of ingredients which include melatonin, L-theanine, chamomile, passion flower, and lemon balm. The addition the gummies seemed to help as well, and rounded out the sleep routine.

Remember that everyone may have different sleep needs and preferences, so it is important to try something but analyze whether it is helpful or not. For this case, the biggest help was the compression socks.

What are some things that help you get to sleep?

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Tonya is a pediatric Occupational Therapist, and loves creating things to work on skills and solve problems.

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2 replies
  1. Marlene
    Marlene says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post!!!! I have Restless Legs Syndrome/Willis Ekbom Disease and I’m and OT so I use proprioception to help during the day. I have an 18 lb. weighted blanket that took 2 weeks to get used to. I use a variety of Young Living oils diffused and several topically. I do take some things but am trying to wean off them. I’ve been using leg sleeves made for runners where they are knitted tighter in the calf area (not the version for shin splints) from Zensah. I tried to get them to tailor some of their items for SI use and pediatric or petite sizes but they are sports-based. I went ultra hoping the sleeve would be shorter but I love the deeper compression! I sometimes wear them all day! I may try the socks but am not sure if I will like the compression on my feet. Reading, calming music may help. I do like the white noise of a fan. Darkness also helps.

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