Shouldn't a 4 year old be able to sleep for over 2 hours straight?! Plus, how to stop the "Must be snuggled all night" thing? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 01-25-2011, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi there

My daughter has been a notoriously bad sleeper since the first night she was born. We coslept and DD now has her own room where she starts off the night.

I have absolutely no problem that she comes into our bed when we are in there later. BUT, she starts off in her own bed at 8pm bedtime. She goes through phases where she will sleep until midnight, but often is waking up crying by 10. And someone has to go in there and snuggle her back to sleep. Some nights she'll just keep crying every 10 minutes if you leave her again. (Oh, and whether she started off in our bed or her bed it would be the same crying a couple hours later).

 

I also have a 17 m.o. who is his own terrible sleeper and wakes constantly, so it's super frustrating when it's just a whole night (the part where you might actually be getting 3 hours to read, talk/be intimate with your spouse, relax) trying to quell crying, sleeping children.

When I ask DD why she cries she's not really sure. The most she says is, I like to have Mama and Dada there and not sleep alone.

But I would think at 4 years old she should be able to go 3-4 hours in a bed by herself.

 

And it's not just by herself. She will wake up in the big bed with us and demand that she be snuggled. And cry, "I need to be snuggled!" I know it's nice to be snuggled and all, but this has to stop. I do think DH created this snuggle monster after DS was born, prior to this she was in bed but didn't need to be snuggled by me, but we need help un-creating her. Any ideas?

 

I know that each child is different but I do think, developmentally, she can sleep 4 hours straight. I don't think I'm asking for that much. sleepytime.gif

 

I do think it is partly habit and am looking for way to break the habit and give her better sleeping habits. And I'm not above bribery! winky.gif

Thank you for any help you can give!

 


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#2 of 18 Old 01-26-2011, 12:28 PM
 
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Does she like books? I'd be tempted to try making her a book that is a story about her, and about how when she was little she needed Mama and Dada to help her sleep but now that she's big she can sleep on her own.

 


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#3 of 18 Old 01-26-2011, 12:42 PM
 
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Just want to say I feel for you. I, too, have a 4 yo DD who wakes at least once a night and needs to be cuddled to sleep (and back to sleep) and an 18 mo DS who seems to be headed in the same direction.

 

I end up just sleeping with her after she wakes up most nights because DS is night-weaned and so he can hang with DH. We have resisted buying a bigger bed (she's in a twin mattress on the floor) because I really would like to sleep in our nice grown-up bed. I know she can sleep long stretches as long as she's touching someone. We've even considered moving them to a sibling bed, but I'm not sure about whether that would help or if they would just wake each other up.

 

I have also tried to talk with her. She says she's scared alone. She says she needs someone to sleep with her now and at some point she won't need us anymore.

 

We just keep hoping they will grow out of it and try to make the most of the nights they sleep in their own beds for more than a few hours. A good night is one when I sleep enough to have a dream!

 


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Trying to be a joyful Catholic wife and mama, and taking it one day at a time!
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#4 of 18 Old 01-26-2011, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She loves books, maybe that could help.

 

Sarahsmiles, she is scared alone too. Which is fine, I don't mind sharing our bed (when I'm actually in it!!).  I just want her to be able to sleep more than 2 hours before she wakes, you know? I'm usually OK with it, but sometimes I just reach my limit of frustration when it's this bad. 

Thanks for the support! smile.gif


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#5 of 18 Old 01-26-2011, 04:04 PM
 
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Maybe you could try to lengthen, slowly, the amount of time she stays in her bed.  Put a clock in her room and when you put her to bed then say, "now if you wake up before the clock says, 11:00 then you stay in here quietly until then and then you can come straight into mommy and daddy's bed."  This way you teach her that it's ok for her to need mommy and daddy, but she can feel some control over it as well.  I know that if someone says to me that we're going on a drive but doesn't tell me how far it is between bathrooms, I feel that I always HAVE to go right THEN.  Whereas if someone says, hey, guess what, there's a bathroom in 30 minutes, I'm fine the whole time.  So maybe giving her something she can see to help her go a little longer would help. 


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#6 of 18 Old 01-27-2011, 10:48 AM
 
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I'd be pretty firm with this.  I'd say no coming into mommy/daddy's bed before ___ time (or if you think that's too confusing, stop is altogether) and then when she wakes I'd verbally comfort her or even pat her back or something but from the side of the bed.  Not sleeping with her.  

I'd say it would be a rough few nights but worth it.  

 

I'd have little tolerance for that kind of waking at that age.  You both need better sleep than that!  If basic behavior modification techniques don't work I'd be looking for a sleep study.


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#7 of 18 Old 01-27-2011, 10:59 AM
 
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I think I'd go sleep in her room one night and see what it felt like in there.  I have done this and found things such as a really uncomfortable bed, scratchy sheets, not enough covers weird sounds, a neighbor who makes a lot of noise going to work in the wee hours just under my child's window, a breeze or the heater blowing the wrong way causing throat irritation.  I've done a lot to make my kids beds feel very cozy, foam topper, quilted mattress cover, high count cotton sheets (polyester sheets will keep them up all night), adequate sized pillow,  thin cover and then a quilt.  I also run a fan for noise and have a room darkening curtain.  We take the wheels out of our hamsters cages just before bed.

 

PJ's make a difference too.  Like I said, anything not 100% cotton will wake them all night long. 

 

My daughter had a rough time sleeping even after I had done this, so she had a dvd player in her room for those times when she woke up and couldn't get back to sleep.  This at least allowed me to sleep. 

 

Lack of sleep is so hard.  I hope you can find something that works.


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#8 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 08:51 AM
 
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What about food sensitivities? Especially food additives like colourings. My youngest sister didn't sleep through the night until my mom took her off tartrazine at age 3 and it worked almost immediately. Tartrazine is a yellow colouring used for orange cheese and a lot of other foods and can cause sleeplessness and hyperactivity. I have heard that red colourings can be pretty bad too. 

I would think that a 4 year old should be sleeping through the night (6 hrs or more), and definitely more than 2 hrs. Despite the strange room/ being away from you stuff, I would think that at some point she should get tired enough to just pass out for several hours. I would be concerned that she is sleeping so lightly and for such short periods that she may be sleep deprived during the day. 

Does she nap during the day? Maybe that would be a good time for her practice sleeping alone in her room. Another idea that someone I know used was to switch the baby monitors during bay-time naps so that while she is trying sleep she can hear what you are doing out in the kitchen/ living room etc..

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#9 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 09:19 AM
 
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I have a 4 y/o DD who has trouble sleeping through the night, too.  She has slept through the whole night for long periods, but whenever we have a life disruption she'll wake again.  In the past, the waking would last for exactly a week past the event (these disruptions have been things like papa leaving on a business trip, papa returning trip, going on a family vacation, returning from a family vacation, etc.), but lately our disruptions are so frequent (papa's away during the week and only home on weekends) that she's never sleeping through the night.  Maybe you'll find a pattern like this as well?  It helped a bunch when I got her to come to my bed when she wakes instead of crying & me having to lay down in her bed or go get her to bring her to ours, but I hear you on the waking in the early evening.  That's rough.  It sounds like she is coming fully awake at the light point of each sleep cycle.  Maybe dedicating a week or two to helping her stay asleep through that first light phase would pay dividends.  Either laying with her from the beginning of the night, or maybe going in to her preemptively before her normal wake time.


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#10 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 09:21 AM
 
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We got our DD several stuffed animals for sleeping and explained to her that they were there to cuddle with and protect her at night. After it we had to redirect her to cuddle with them when she was waking up multiple times. It took a while but now she sleeps by herself and is able to fall back asleep without our help. Having a consistent bedtime and routine helped a lot too.

 

 

This is a great idea too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaoticzenmom View Post

I think I'd go sleep in her room one night and see what it felt like in there.  I have done this and found things such as a really uncomfortable bed, scratchy sheets, not enough covers weird sounds, a neighbor who makes a lot of noise going to work in the wee hours just under my child's window, a breeze or the heater blowing the wrong way causing throat irritation.  I've done a lot to make my kids beds feel very cozy, foam topper, quilted mattress cover, high count cotton sheets (polyester sheets will keep them up all night), adequate sized pillow,  thin cover and then a quilt.  I also run a fan for noise and have a room darkening curtain.  We take the wheels out of our hamsters cages just before bed.

 

PJ's make a difference too.  Like I said, anything not 100% cotton will wake them all night long. 

 

My daughter had a rough time sleeping even after I had done this, so she had a dvd player in her room for those times when she woke up and couldn't get back to sleep.  This at least allowed me to sleep. 

 

Lack of sleep is so hard.  I hope you can find something that works.



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#11 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's funny. i have just been trying to cut out all food coloring just for health reasons. Would be interesting to see it help sleep! Um, and awesome.

Last night she slept about 1 hour, woke up crying and proceeded to wake up crying every 10 minutes until she came out of her room and then into our bed after we got ready for bed. Argh!

 

All she says in response is "I'm scared and want to be snuggled." I don't know. dizzy.gif


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#12 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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She does have a snuggle animal. Maybe we need to come in and redirect her to snuggle it instead of snuggling her.

 

We have a noise machine. 

New blankets, cotton clothes, night light she likes. DH has slept in there a bunch, haha, so he knows the room feels decent. I have slept in there with my DS some nights and actually find it more comfortable than our room. :)

Like I said, last night she woke every 10 minutes. So it's not the sleep cycle, although she always did do the cycling out of sleep since she was born, basically. We seemed to get past it (sort of- 3 hours of sleep) for a while but now it is worse.

 

I am taking DS to the doc in March for 18 month look-see so I added her to talk with him about her sleeping. Maybe there is something more than just a kid who is a bad sleeper, IDK.

 

And, like I said, it's not the sleeping with us so much. I was a kid with a lot of nighttime fears and totally get the wanting to sleep with us, I was always comforted being in bed with my dad.

That's fine and I welcome it during the night if she needs to. But being able to sleep from 8-12pm, for instance, shouldn't be a major issue with anywhere from 3 to 12 wakings with crying, you know? Not at 4 years of age. 

And she often wakes in bed with us and asks for her dad to snuggle her by wrapping his arms around her so she can go back to sleep. So even our presence right there is not enough. I do think he needs to lay off the snuggles (maybe to retrain her to not need them) but he is tired and does it so he can sleep too, understandably.

 

Sorry, just venting. I am super frustrated this morning at last night's sleep pattern and the fact that we just have no time, ever, to relax without crying. 


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#13 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 10:03 AM
 
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I definitely think she needs a sleep study.  What you're describing is well out of the realm of normal for her age, IMO.  It could be apnea, adenoids or something like that.  


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#14 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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With the snuggles being so important, maybe a weighted blanket would help?


-Shannon, momma to H reading.gif 8/03, N heartbeat.gif 9/06, & P homebirth.jpg 8/11, missing S brokenheart.gif born at 11 wks 1/09 

 


 
   

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#15 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 12:02 PM
 
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We had a wee one who, having co-slept w/us up until age three ... had to have "constant contact."  What it meant was she was waking up every hour to check and we all got little sleep.  Our solution?  Keep co-sleeping, but not in the same bed.  Now, she's four, we sleep side by side in separate queen futons on the floor, and I hold her hand as she falls asleep.


Her body is used to not touching someone and she doesn't wake up all night long.  A couple of times a night she'll wake up to peep around to see we're all still there, or if she has a nightmare we'll hold hands ... but we all sleep so much better.  Plus my dh and I can spend time out of the room w/o her sleep being disrupted.

 

HTH


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#16 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 06:34 PM
 
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Our 4YO has very similar patterns to what you're mentioning. I'm mostly just subbing to see what others have to say. 


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#17 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post

Our 4YO has very similar patterns to what you're mentioning. I'm mostly just subbing to see what others have to say. 



OP here. My heartfelt condolences to you. 

winky.gif

 

Seriously, though, has anything ever worked for y'all? Do s/he wake up crying too?


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#18 of 18 Old 02-01-2011, 07:55 PM
 
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I thought mine was a terrible, terrible sleeper too--like, the worst I'd heard about, sleeping still in 1-2 hour bursts with over an hour devoted to getting to sleep sometimes multiple times a night.  When she was 2 1/2 we almost accidentally found out that it was basically entirely due to gluten sensitivity.  We took out gluten, and our sleep problems basically resolved themselves instantly and completely.  And it had been such hell.  Oh my god.  I'm an eight or more hours a night girl.  Basically ruined the first 2 1/2 years of life with my daughter.  So now I would say that any time your child's sleep pattern is that far outside the realm of normal, it's well worth looking for a biological reason of some sort.  Elimination diets, chiropractic care, food allergy testing...I'd do a lot to avoid more of that misery. 

 

Wishing for a magic solution for you, too!

 

Edited to add that, hah, my daughter is 3 1/2 and does still sleep plastered up against me all night long.  It's a little awkward no doubt, especially since I'm 9 months pregnant, but honestly at some point I just let go and stopped minding, and now (especially since we weaned several months ago) I just adore the delicious snuggles that I never got before, when she was littler.  I dunno.

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