How can I help my 5 year old get more sleep? - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > How can I help my 5 year old get more sleep?
earthgirl's Avatar earthgirl 11:43 AM 02-28-2012

My DD has had sleep "issues" since infancy. She was the baby that only did 40 minute naps, gave up naps way too early, wakes up at ungodly hours, etc. I know the range of what's normal varies, but geez, I'm really feeling like I need a healthy sleeper. The main issues now is that she just wakes up too early. On a good day, she sleeps until 6. On a bad day, she's awake before 5:00. I think I could accept this (well, not the pre-5:00 stuff, that's just insane) if I felt like she was actually getting enough sleep. But she so clearly is not. She does manage to get through the day mostly OK, but she just always seems so tired. I would say she get about 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night, but it is often less than that.


Here's a random sampling of things we've tried:


  • Dark curtains so the sun doesn't peep in. This seems to be useless.
  • Early bedtimes. This mostly results in earlier wake up times. Not to mention, it feels difficult to consistently maintain.
  • Late bedtimes. She still wakes up early. We are currently trying this again, though.
  • The OK to wake clock. This doesn't work. She will happily play in her bed until the green light comes on. 


I think that's pretty much it. I will say that she goes to bed easily and almost always sleeps through the night. Getting her to bed isn't really an issue. So are there other things I should be trying? Anyone ever able to conquer this or do I just need to accept that she's going to just be sleep deprived? 

Boot's Avatar Boot 12:02 PM 02-28-2012

I have a similar kid but I usually manage to get him to sleep around 10-11 hours. It's a struggle though. This is what we do:

Consistent bedtime routine consisting of a foot or back rub, calcium magnesium supplement, certain amount of stories, no media. We only have to be really strict with this when we are going through a 'bad' patch. 

Bedtime is early. We go upstairs at 6.30 and I hope he'll be asleep by 7.30. Doesn't always work obviously. 

Recently I've started giving him a really low dose of melatonin if he's going through a bad spell. I only give it 3 nights in a row at the most and then nothing for a few weeks. It's helped a lot. 


So, my advise is to work on getting more sleep at the beginning of the night and try to live with the early mornings, especially if she is willing to play and not disturb you until a certain time. Good luck. 

chaimom's Avatar chaimom 12:36 PM 02-28-2012

In my experience, you can't change their internal clocks and believe me, I've tried. My kids have always been awake early (5-5:30 as babies, and now no later than 6:30 most mornings) and we tried everything you've tried to get them to sleep later.    I never thought I'd be an early riser, but I am now, thanks to them.  There was nothing we could do to change their internal clocks.  Late bedtimes just made them more tired the next day.  My dd dropped her naps at age 2.  She just turned 6 and she sleeps about the same amount as your dd. She's not tired, though.  


If your dd is having a hard time because of being tired can you try to get her to relax for a while in the afternoon?  I'm assuming she doesn't nap.  Sometimes a break, laying on the couch reading is enough to boost energy.





Tjej's Avatar Tjej 04:26 PM 02-28-2012




Peony's Avatar Peony 07:30 PM 02-28-2012

It took YEARS to figure out my now 9 year old's sleep. We have to be very consistent about bedtime, it is a very special rare night that it gets pushed back, I stick to it year around, school breaks, summer, it doesn't matter. Once she gets off schedule it is quite difficult to get her back on. So we just don't get off schedule. I wear her butt out during the day, just going to her school where they have active recess 1.5 hours a day is not enough, she does something physical every single day after school, the more she does, the more sleep she gets at night usually. In the summer it is sports camps. When DD1 was 5, going to bed at 10pm and up at 6am was a every day occurrence. Now she goes to bed at 8pm, asleep by 8:30-9pm and sleeps in until 7am. Huge difference! It was a gradual process to get here. She is a happier, well rested child now, looking back I know she was sleep deprived for years but we were just in that cycle and could not get out of it. 

earthgirl's Avatar earthgirl 11:28 AM 02-29-2012

Hmm...maybe I should try to increase her activity level. She seems pretty active to me- she's practically incapable of being still. But maybe we could increase it. Yesterday she had swimming class in the morning and worked so hard. Then she had yoga in the afternoon. I knew she would crash hard last night, but nope. She was up for the day at 5:10. eyesroll.gif I'm at least glad to hear that some of you have figured out some solutions. 


Oh, has anyone found that white noise helped in any way? That is actually something that we have never tried.

Peony's Avatar Peony 01:04 PM 02-29-2012

We do white noise, we've done it since she was a baby. It obviously didn't work when she was little but now she appreciates it and does not sleep well if we don't have any. As evidenced by day 2 of our vacation last year when we ran out and bought a new machine since I didn't bring one with us! And even though black out blinds did not work well when she was younger either, she will wake up early if she is sleeping any other place now that doesn't have them.I bring duct tape and curtains when we travel. Oh the things we do to get our kids to sleep.




DD1 never sat still either, I always thought she had plenty of activity but now it is a whole other level. An ok day is where is only does gymnastics for 2 hours, a better day is something 3+ hours, all day? Even better! At age 9 now she is fully capable of hiking 7 miles up a mountain and she does. And then she sleeps at night. biggrinbounce.gif She loves sports and being outside so she never really realizes that my mission is different then her goal of having fun. 

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