HELP! 3-year old not sleeping enough - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 08-25-2008, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a 3 year old daughter going through normal 3 year old things and part of this is difficulty going to sleep at night and waking up too early which results in less than 9 hours of sleep at night. Even with daytime naps, she is still always groggy, sleepy, unruly, rubbing her eyes, tired, etc.

We have a bedtime routine that lasts 30 minutes to 60 minutes including teeth brushing, pooping, books, stories, etc., and we aim for between 7p and 8p. I got her now to the point where she won't keep coming out of her room asking for things (water, milk, pee, poop, book, kiss, hug), but she still tosses and turns for 1-2 hours before falling asleep. Then she'll wake up at 6a, CLEARLY still tired, and refuses to go back to sleep.

So, in summary, help! What are your thoughts and suggestions? What are some things that you have incorporated into your bedtime routine (both what you DO And what you SAY) to help them fall asleep?

Thank you!
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#2 of 13 Old 08-25-2008, 01:25 PM
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When she does fall asleep, how does she sleep? Does she toss and turn often? Have you ever listened to her to see if she has apnea issues? Evan had a sleep study done last month and it showed moderate/severe apnea which we knew about so he had his tonsils out on Wed. He's already sleeping better and I bet won't take as many naps now as he was. He doens't take long to go to sleep though, but I know they say when kids get overtired it can make them fight sleep more. There are sleep DRs that might be able to help if you can't seem to figure it out or your DR doesn't have any ideas. DH's cousin has taken their dd there b/c she doesn't sleep and when she does, she has these terrible terrors, they were able to help her get some more rest. Just some thoughts, hope it gets better.

Jennifer, LPN and nursing student, Doula, CPST, and VBAC mama x3 to
AJ (5/03), Evan (12/04), Ilana (11/06), Olivia (2/09), and Unity (8/2012)

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#3 of 13 Old 08-25-2008, 05:10 PM
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I'm having the same problem!!!! It is really driving me nuts,because he is SO cranky and SO clingy and SO teary and I just have zero patience b/c hello??? If you're tired, go to sleep!!! Maybe it's just jealousy because *I* so would like to sleep.

My mother's theory for my child is that he cant stand to be asleep while new baby brother is around. That makes enough sense to keep me from losing my mind. I'm considering making a rewards chart--stay in bed until 8am for a week and get something cool. He's always been a terrible sleeper but since baby bro came along it's been crazy. He's also cut back his naps from 1.5 hrs to 50 minutes or less, and he really needs those too. And he fights taking them which really wears on me because he will be so obviously exhausted.

We're keeping a 9 bedtime, although 8 would be better since he wakes up at 7, but likeyour DD,he won't go to sleep and it's so frustrating for us all. The couple of times he's gotten 12 hrs he's been a totally different child. That's truly what he needs.

So not much help, sorry. Have you read Sleepless in America? The NCSS for Toddlers didn't help much, but I should pro'lly revisit it. I liked Sleepless but there's no magic bullet there--basically that kids need more sleep but you can't make them, you can only facilitate it. On that note, I've now decided on imposing "Quiet Time" from 2-3. He fell asleep today (after a big meltdown of course) and i thikj that's what I'm gong to do from here on out because rubbing his back and singing for 40 minutes and having him not fall asleep makes me want to scream.

Huh, I think I'm the one who needs a nap.:
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#4 of 13 Old 08-26-2008, 01:01 AM
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Do you co-sleep? When my 3 year old wakes up at 5 and insists we get up, I tell her it's too early and she'll go back to sleep. I doubt she would do that if she had to sleep alone.
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#5 of 13 Old 08-26-2008, 03:24 AM
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I lie down with my 3 year old to help facilitate her going to bed quickly and easily. I know that this isn't a popular idea in that yes, she IS dependant on us lying down with her, but she usually falls asleep in less than 10 minutes if one of us is lying down with her. We'll start weaning her from needing us to fall asleep in the next year like we did with her brother who falls asleep within 5 minutes every night since he was 4 years old. She also takes a nap where she actually nurses to sleep, but if she wakes before an hour, I go back and lie down with her and she usually goes back to sleep. She'll do this for a few days usually and then goes back to her 2 1/2 hour naps for a few months. It goes in cycles with her. Also, when she wakes in the middle of the night, we lay down with her or bring her to our bed. If she wakes before 7 I tell her it's still nightime and tell her to go back to sleep and she does 9 times out of 10. Good luck...cranky 3 year olds are the worst!

Heather , momma to ' Parker- 10, Carlee- 7 and our baby Genevieve Faith - 8-27-10

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#6 of 13 Old 08-26-2008, 03:50 PM
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I'm not the OP but have the same problem...We no longer cosleep b/c my 3 y/o is "a big boy" and insists on his own bed. Well, his own bed plus me lying down w/ him until he falls asleep and then my husband sleeping in the other bed next to him. I WISH he would come back to our (DH and my, now my) bed. Once he's up, he's up. DH has tried coaxing him back, I've run (literally run) to lie down w/ him--no dice. Up is up. And we have blackout curtains. And a white noise machine. My kid apparently has a v strong internal clock and doesn't like to waste time sleeping!

It's ironic that once he night weaned he slept 100% better, but it became 100x harder to put him back to sleep once he woke up.
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#7 of 13 Old 08-27-2008, 09:00 AM
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i know it sounds crazy and can be very difficult considering some families' schedules, but we put our 3.5 yo to bed very early such that he is asleep NO LATER than 7, sometimes by 6:30. this is b/c he gets up by 6:30 NO MATTER WHAT TIME HE GOES TO SLEEP. last week, we went to the county fair and he was up til around midnight. STILL got up at 7. so for his bio clock, we needed to back up bedtime. it can be inconvenient at times, but is SOOOOOO worth it. also, he refuses to nap, so he's desperate for sleep in the evening. i've even considered bumping it back further b/c the last few days, he's sat at dinner saying "mommy, i'm too tired to eat". and he is asleep within about 5 minutes of lights out (after a story or two and while i'm singing/giving a back rub). he's a DREAM to put to sleep. when his bedtime was 8ish, he was a nightmare to put to sleep.
just my 2 cents! good luck!
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#8 of 13 Old 08-27-2008, 12:59 PM
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I like the early btime idea but then he'd never get any time w/ Daddy. I think Daddy is one of the main reasons he wakes up so early and tries to stay up so late.
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#9 of 13 Old 08-27-2008, 09:27 PM
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well, unfortunately I have no helpful solutions, I'm just wanting to comiserate.

I have been been struggling with sleep issues in my 3y/o for 7 months now. the first 4 of those months were the worst - he was waking up throwing screaming tantrums at 2am for more than an hour and his behaviour was extremely difficult during the day.

He now has gotten much better, and is very similar to the OP.

I think Jackson'smama may have a good idea, I am going to try that (it will mean him missing his daddy, but it may be worth it, if it works)

Also, we are going to be wheat-free for the month of Sept. as a trial for another family member's issues, but I am wondering if it may help ds as well.
Thepeach80 mentioned sleep apnea, which I also wonder about since ds has one enlarged tonsil (which I am hoping the wheat free may help?) and sometimes snores/chokes/wakes up and sleeps again.

I cosleep with him and his 2 siblings - one older/one younger. I think the baby did have something to do with his problem at first, but now it is just him.

Sorry that all of us are going through it, but at least we have each other to understand!!

- 7; - 5; - 2; --due 4/11
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#10 of 13 Old 11-12-2008, 03:21 AM
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My little girl has been a very poor sleeper from day1. She is now 2 and a half. Just like many of you we have tried various techiques ranging from crying it out, to co-sleeping. We have followed all the "rules and expert advice" out there to very little avail. Most techniques we have used for at least 2 weeks solid before deciding to call them a failure.
Acceptance sounds fantastic, but at this time, it seems as elusive to me as a good nights sleep. Right now I am planning to contact a counsellor to help me find techniques and actual tools I can use to help myself let go of my expectations, anxiety and guilt, and accept my current reality of a very wonderful little girl who is a very bad sleeper.

Lots of Love
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#11 of 13 Old 11-12-2008, 03:40 AM
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I also lie down with dd, and then I sneak out and come to bed later.

I agree that I can only stop the really early waking by talking and soothing her back to sleep, but this is because I am in the bed with her.

I'd echo the PPs - how is she sleeping? Any underlying health issues? My dd's sleep ranges from extremely thrashy to solid and log-like. When she's coming down with something, has had any caffeine (chocolate), or is generally sad, it is a thrashy night.

I did find that once we stopped her from napping, she actually got MORE sleep in 24 hours. Yes, against the Sleepless in America guidelines, but dd would stay up until 11 pm with a 45 minute nap. Without it, she can be asleep by 7:30. Either way, she was up before 7:30. She does all right without the nap, but she wouldn't mind having one either. She loved her nap, but I couldn't stand the late bedtimes.

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#12 of 13 Old 11-12-2008, 06:01 AM
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We cosleep, in a queen size bed with a crib (front rail removed) sidecarred to my side for a few extra inches of space.

My 3.5 year old has not been taking naps regularly since she was 2 and has had maybe 4 naps since she was 2.5. We do not have a bedtime. She usually falls asleep on the couch in the living room if I'm up past 10 pm and I put her in the bed or the crib. Like tonight, she fell asleep on the living room floor wrapped in a blanket with a pillow around 10:30 or so. No matter what time she falls asleep, she generally sleeps no less than 10.5 and more often around 12 hours at night. So if she falls asleep at 10 pm, she's awake between 8:30 (very rare) and 10 am. I sleep in as long as I can, but the younger one tends to wake up first as she's still taking naps during the day.

There are times when my older one has woken in the middle of the night but this is really rare. However, if she does, I'm right there to comfort her and attend to whatever her need is and we fall right back to sleep.

ETA: it's not the next day: Abigail is still asleep and it's almost 11:30 am and Sophia has been up for an hour and apparently tried to 'make' herself breakfast with leftovers, ketchup, and butter from the fridge. LOL

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#13 of 13 Old 11-12-2008, 01:11 PM
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Once ds stopped napping, bedtime went from being a major power struggle involving many tears (usually mine), to being quick and easy and pleasant. I agree that he gets more sleep now that he doesn't nap.

That said, he still gets up at least once a night and comes to find me, and he's been waking up really early since the stupid time change :. Blackout curtains definitely do help with that, btw.

If she wants daddy time, can daddy put her to bed?

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