Like most babies, Henry, 8, had problems sleeping though the night, but unlike most as he grew older the problems didn’t go away.
When Henry started pre-school, it was hard for his parents to get him to sleep for more than five to six hours a night. His parents tried everything from soothing music to massage before bed, but nothing seemed to work.
“We read every sleep book out there and were trying every natural therapy to try to get Henry to sleep,” says Liz, Henry’s mom. “We really didn’t want to have to use sleeping pills or medication on Henry because he was so young.”
Henry’s lack of sleep started to impact his development. Without healthy sleep he was always tired and he experienced delays in his language, motor skills, and his cognitive abilities.
“As parents it was extremely hard because you’re losing sleep right alongside your child,” says Liz. “We were exhausted and at the same time we were trying to figure out the right routine or therapy to get Henry to sleep.”
When Henry started first grade, his teachers noticed how much he was struggling with his communication skills and concentration. After a meeting with the family, his teachers recommended that Liz consult a doctor.
Their pediatrician referred Henry to a neurologist, and after some tests it was determined that cognitively Henry was perfectly fine. The neurologist referred Henry’s case to Gary Feldman, M.D., pediatric sleep medicine specialist and medical director at the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.
The Stramski Children’s Developmental Center provides comprehensive care for children with behavioral and developmental conditions, including sleep conditions.
Dr. Feldman met with Liz and Henry and began to develop a plan for treatment. He stressed that the most important part of this whole process was going to be patience.
He worked with Liz and Henry to slowly increase the amount of time Henry would sleep at night and incorporated melatonin and light therapy to slowly get him closer to healthier sleep. They also started a sleep log to track Henry’s progress.
“It’s taken a lot of patience, but tiny bit by tiny bit Dr. Feldman and the Stramski Center have helped us get Henry up to eight hours and counting of sleep per night,” says Liz. “Getting treatment and working with a doctor guided process has helped us so much.”
Now in second grade, Henry is already seeing improvements in school and is in a much better mood.
“This last report card had us all surprised with Henry scoring average and even above average in a lot of the subjects he was struggling in before,” says Liz. “As a family we are all just so happy and even though there’s still some work to do, it’s encouraging to see how easy it is for Henry to fall asleep now.”