toddler only sleeps 8 hours/night - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 09-22-2011, 03:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 21mo dd can almost never go back to sleep after 8 hours of sleep. I have no idea what to do...we've been fighting this fight for months now and it's not getting any better. Could something be wrong? I don't know what to do.

 

During a typical night for dd (after a huge battle to get to sleep in the first place, but that's for a different post), she's asleep by 8 or 9. She might fuss or need soothing back to sleep once around 12 or 1. Almost every night between 3:30 and 4:30 she wakes up crying for me. She says, "mama, I awake!" and is usually standing up in bed by the time I get to her. I've tried moving faster and getting to her before she sits up. I've tried letting her fuss longer but she just wakes herself up more. If I get to her before she's wide awake, she's happy to let me bounce/rock her for up to an hour, but she just can't go to sleep. I feel like she WANTS to go to sleep. She gets frustrated. I get frustrated. She will seem asleep after 30 minutes or so of soothing and I'll try to put her back in bed, but she'll arch her back and cry and completely wake herself up again. At that point, she'll let me pick her up and soothe her again for maybe 15 minutes, but her eyes will be wide open, blinking patiently at me. Then she'll start to struggle to get away from me and want to get down and play. She's up for the day at that point, showing no signs of needing an early nap. She usually naps (with no battles!) for about 2 hours around 11.

 

I feel like we've tried so many things to help her get back to sleep. Dh has no luck. Taking her back to bed with us doesn't work. She would probably let me nurse her back to sleep in bed with us, but I don't want to back slide with nursing. For one, I'm 6 weeks pregnant with #2 and nursing is PAINFUL...we need to cut back during the day but we need to solve our nighttime problems first. Secondly, we night weaned around 16 months because she just kept herself (and me) awake nursing all night long and did not sleep. Her sleep has been so much better since then, but we have continued to have this middle-of-the-night waking problem. It used to be earlier and we could at least get her back to sleep after a few hours, but dh and I both work and there's no option of a 7:30am nap for us.

 

One other observation - she went through a period a few weeks back of wanting to nap for 4 hours at around 11am. Her sleep cycle is obviously confused. But she seems FINE during the day. Not over tired...except for the fact that it's nearly impossible to get to to sleep an night, which may be related.

 

I'm so confused and don't know what to do! Is this just a phase? Is there anything you know of that I'm missing to help her get back to sleep? Help please!

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#2 of 8 Old 09-22-2011, 04:17 AM
 
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The only thing I can think of is perhaps she is going to bed too late?  Have you tried a much earlier bedtime (6:30/7)?  


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#3 of 8 Old 09-22-2011, 04:20 AM
 
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It won't let me edit, I hit reply too quickly!  I know some kids wake up too early when they go to bed too late...counter intuitive, I know, but that seems to be the case in our house.  One of the zillion of books I've read on sleep (don't remember which one--probably because I was sleep deprived when I read them) suggested moving bedtime earlier 20 minutes a night until you get the wake up time that you want and your child is well rested.  We also HAD to night wean to get better sleep in our house.  Currently tho' I will nurse our 17 month old if he wakes up after 5am--if I do, he will sleep until 6:30 or so (goes to bed around 7:30p)


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#4 of 8 Old 10-10-2011, 06:00 PM
 
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For what it's worth (and this really doesn't help you much) I read that for kids this age, about 11 to 11.5 hours of TOTAL sleep a day is what they need. So they said most kids will do about 9 hours at night and 2 for a nap. That's just to say that your daughter isn't totally off if she's getting 10 hours a day. That doesn't help you because you need more sleep! But if she's just the kind of child that needs less sleep, I wonder if you might experiment with a shorter nap or a later bedtime just to get more rest. I know the later bedtime thing isn't what the books say, but it has worked for us.

 

I think we all kind of get taken aback when they start sleeping fewer hours total. It's not something you're expecting.

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#5 of 8 Old 10-12-2011, 12:08 PM
 
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I would try a later bedtime for a while, like 9:30-10:30.

 

My son (13mo) has always needed less sleep than the typical baby. Not way less, just slightly less -- but if he goes to bed at the textbook bedtime of 7pm, he does strange things like wake every hour, wake after 40 minutes and be up until 10pm, wake around 2am and not go back to sleep for an hour or more, or wake up for the day at 4:30.

 

He does much better with a bedtime of 8:30-9:30. He usually wakes up between 6:30-7:30.


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#6 of 8 Old 10-12-2011, 02:28 PM
 
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No advice, just wanted to let you know you are not alone.  Some children just need less sleep than others, and our 18 month old is one of them.  We do a later bedtime because anything earlier just leads to my getting really frustrated.  I can "work at it" by starting him earlier or get him to sleep in under twenty minutes if it's closer to 9:30 or so. 

 

My main strategy for self-preservation is trying to go to sleep as early as possible myself.  It sucks, but I know it won't last forever.


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#7 of 8 Old 10-12-2011, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all of the input everyone. I swear we have tried everything and have gotten results with no consistency. Wishin'&Hopin', your advice to try an earlier bedtime really helped with some of the bedtime issues that we were having. I think getting her down for the night was such a nightmare because she was over tired. As soon as we moved up her bedtime, her hysterics stopped completely. In hindsight, they were obviously because she was overtired, but I guess you just don't always see the solution when you're so close to the problem!

 

As for middle of the night "I'm awake!" calls, they're getting better. I started keeping a food and dirty diaper diary and I really think her night wakings are due to food or digestion. Something to do with either 1) eating gassy-type foods right before bed (even though she's perfectly happy when she wakes up at 3am; they might be having some sort of other effect on her) or 2) not pooping during the day. Yesterday she had two dirty diapers and she slept great. Today, zero dirty diapers...we'll see how tonight goes!

 

I loved hearing the 11 - 11.5 hours guideline, Phaedra, that makes me feel better. Everything I find says 14 hours, which is just not happening!

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#8 of 8 Old 10-12-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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I'm glad it helped...our guy sleeps 10 hours at night and another 3 for naps.  13 hours sleep is sort of the gold standard in our house--any less and he's a mess and gets hard to deal with at sleep times (or should be sleeping times as it were).  Everything I've read has varied from 12-14 hours in the studies of how much sleep toddlers need.  

That said, if she is happy, alert, engaged with the world around her--11 hours might be enough for her!

 

Good luck tonight!


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