My son will be 4 in April, and has been a challenging sleeper from day one. We finally thought we had it under control when he started sleeping in his own bed and sleeping through the night 6 months ago. Suddenly, that all changed with numerous night-wakings, night terrors and nightmares. He now sleeps on a mattress on our floor, too scared of bad dreams to sleep in his room. The main problem with this situation is that he has recently decided to start waking up around 5:30 in the morning, as opposed to his usual 6;30-7ish. My daughter, who is almost two, likes to sleep a little past this point and, quite frankly, so do my husband and myself. We are trying to encourage our son to get up quietly and go to his room to look at books, play with foam blocks and engage in quiet activities for a little while so the rest of the family can complete the sleeping process. He is resistant, and kicks up a fuss when we ask him to leave the room in the a.m, which wakes up his sister and starts the day.
At nap time, the problem continues. My daughter still naps after lunch, and my son is supposed to spend some quiet time in his room. His quiet time is never very quiet, and he refuses to let me close his door. If I do so, he screams at the top of his lungs for 10 minute stretches. He is very strong willed and, honestly, relentless at times.
I am exhausted. My daughter is teething and waking up at least 6 times a night. Add to that my son's sleep disturbances, his refusal to let anyone sleep past 5:30, and the inability to actually rest at nap time, and you've got one tired and frustrated momma. I've explained to him my need for rest in order to be a patient parent, but that doesn't seem to have much of an impact. Anyone else experience similar issues? I think the majority of his problems arise from insecurity and fear of being alone, but I can only be in so many places at once, and bed is where I need to be at 5:30 a.m.
What time does he go to bed at night? Is he getting a good 11-12 hours of sleep?
At a minimum, I'd trade on and off with your husband in terms of getting up with him in the morning until you can get him sleeping a bit later.
He goes to sleep by 7:00 p.m, and he used to sleep until 6:30 or 7:00 a.m, getting his full recommended 12 hours. He started sleeping 12 hours at night after he stopped napping at about 3 and a half. For some reason, even though he still goes to bed at 7:00, he's started getting up 5:30ish, and I can tell he is under-rested throughout the day. My husband used to get up with him, and I have too, and we enjoy that time with him in the morning. We may need to consider doing it again. It's just very hard to convince such exhausted people to get out of bed willingly before 6 a.m, especially since he still seems so tired and cranky.
My DS just turned 4 in Jan and I can tell you he's the same way -- tired and cranky if he's not getting his 12 hours. He also stopped napping a little over 3.5. I'd honestly put him to bed even before 7 if he keeps getting up at 5:30. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but if he's not getting enough sleep going to bed at 7 he needs to get the sleep somewhere. I'd hope that after a few days of doing a very early bedtime (maybe 6:15, 6:30) he'd re-catch up and sleep and maybe get back into that nice 7-7 pattern.
ETA: And I know how much getting up that early stinks. But I'd probably try to switch off as a stop gap measure until you can get him back to his normal pattern.
Oh, and I just thought -- could he be waking so early because he has to go to the bathrooom? If that is possibly the problem, I'd consider waking him up to go one more time before you go to sleep for the night.