5 year old has a hard time falling asleep - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 06-20-2014, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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5 year old has a hard time falling asleep

My 5 year old has had sleep issues from day 1. She seems to have a hard time settling down into sleep.

As a baby, it would take an average of 45 min of nursing every single time she was going to sleep for either a nap or bedtime.

Until she was 3 1/2, she would wake up several times a week for 1-2 hours a night when she would just toss and turn and seem unable to settle back to sleep.

Now, she will sometimes wake up once and will fall back to sleep quickly.

But, getting her to sleep is still a challenge. We have a bedtime routine and we read books in a dim room right before bed, then once she lies down it still takes 30-60 minutes for her to settle into sleep.

She wakes up cranky every morning and I don't think she is getting enough sleep in general (9-10 hours a night).

I've tried so many things - I am just starting using a lullaby CD and I just read about giving honey before bed so i am going to start trying that.

Any other suggestions???

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mama to DD (11/08) and DS (2/12) and expecting another little boy (4/15)
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#2 of 5 Old 06-21-2014, 04:47 AM
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Hi there. My children all went thru phases where it was harder for them to fall asleep. When it was going on, it always felt like it was going to last forever!!! So I empathize.

Have you made sure that there is no caffeine at all in her diet? ONe of my kids is very sensitive to caffeine and she struggles with settling. Also the obvious ones but we lose track of: is it too hot, too hold, is she fearful, does she have nightmares?

It sounds like you're doing all the right things...I did try honey for a bit with one of them. I'm not sure if it was a huge difference but it didn't hurt!


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#3 of 5 Old 06-21-2014, 07:59 AM
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I'm not sure where you live, but at solstice time, I never get enough sleep and wake up cranky every morning. It's not fully dark until 10:30 and it's getting light at 4:00. So if this is anything like in your area, I would wait to blame anything IN and around the house for this until later in the summer when nighttime is longer. In fact, I notice a peak in comments about sleep right around both solstices.

But other than that:

We don't have story time in bed, we have it on the couch. We don't go straight from stories to "lights out" (which is meaningless this time of year anyhow), but after stories we brush teeth and get jammies on. Beds are only for bedtime (or toy "festivals" during the day, but not stories.)

It can also be the content of the stories. I don't fall asleep easily because my mind is forever racing. Scary or not, if it's a story worth thinking about maybe she's thinking about it too much. Another reason to separate the stories from "lights out". 5yos are starting to get a grip on real/pretend (though it's still shaky), are more likely to contemplate the story after ward, and are ideally suited to expanding on the story in their minds. (Growing up, this was what I did after I turned the lights out--play pretending stories in my head and whispering to myself. I'd be awake for hours sometimes!)

I would not use "cranky in the morning" as the sole guide to deciding is she's getting enough sleep. (Well, you mentioned length of sleep, but I've always been dismayed how little sleep my kids need compared to me.) *Where* in your sleep cycle you wake up is a big deal as well. Some of us wake up cranky because morning is our deepest sleep, and we are getting up from that instead of the REM sleep more amenable to gradual waking. And some of us (again--that's me!) are cranky risers anyhow. My daughters are, too, and they sleep just fine. We just have to avoid "throwing our grumps around" until we all wake up some more. First thing in the morning is when I have always done TV time because I am a crab, they are crabs, it's just better this way (and when I would limit TV strictly it was easier just to get it out of the way.)

My girls often sleep in better if they've used the potty at night.

Finally, completely out of the ball park, does she wake up ravenous in the morning? Could be some blood sugar issues if so.

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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#4 of 5 Old 06-21-2014, 08:20 AM
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Black out curtains, a white noise machine and a weighted blanket. Just some things to try.

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#5 of 5 Old 06-24-2014, 03:10 PM
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You are already doing a lot of the things I try, I still have a hard time with mine, but some things that have *helped*...

We have to "calm ourselves" before our book (which as someone else said, for us is the couch)...Me and my husband sit and don't talk or we whisper. If she has a lot of energy we try to let her work it out, but sometimes we encourage her to slow down. When she (DD is the oldest) can sit down quietly with her "energy level" equal to ours (or even close) we read (slowly). Then we "slowly" have her brush teeth, hair, and do night time "jobs".

Feed the fish and make sure their light is off so they sleep, Tuck in stuffed animals/put away so they can sleep. Then she lays down and I can sing her a song, but only if her eyes are closed, and it is very slowly sang.

Making this work when "it's still light outside" is pretty hard.

Basically we try to trick her into slow and sleepy by making everything else slow and, well, as boring as possible.

Sometimes reading a book that is above her level works too.

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