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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am starting to lose it here. My daughter is overtired and cranky and will not fall asleep, here it is almost 11pm and we started the bedtime routine at 8:15 because she was so tired! I don't know how to help her and I've left her to try and sleep on her own because I'm getting so frustrated. I hate this.

She has always slept a little less than 'normal' for her age and I have always maintained a rock-solid bedtime routine (though I'm always struggling against it slipping later and later). She has been sleeping about 8 or 9 hours a night, which I realize is not supposed to be enough for a 5 year old. I don't actually believe it is enough for her, but I am completely flummoxed about how to get her to sleep any more. She wakes on her own in the morning, usually around 7:30 or 8, and despite constant efforts and struggle on my part, it is rare that she goes to sleep before 9:30 or 10pm.

I'm looking for sympathy here, and also solid advice. I think if she were getting more sleep on a regular basis she would be less edgy and prickly and have more physical energy and stamina for vigorous activity during the day (which in turn would help her sleep better…).
 

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I've always noticed here that it's harder for dd to go to sleep when it's lighter later in the day. I give her books in bed and say she can read until it gets dark, and that seems to relax her and she falls asleep relatively quickly. There's a window of sleepiness where they'll lie down, but if you miss that window it seems to be really hard to get them to go down IME. So even if she isn't actually going to sleep, if you can get her lying down and doing anything quiet in bed during that time it might be easier.
 

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I don't have any solid advice to give, only sympathy
I'm struggling with the same thing with my 3.5 yo. No matter what time we start bedtime, he is not actually asleep until at leasat 10pm. It is driving me crazy cause then I REALLY have no life outside of my kids! Sometimes he doesnt' fall alseep until 11 and is so totally cranky the next day that it's hard to go anywhere or do anything!

I wish I had a solution, but I'll be following this thread to see if anyone out there had this problem and was able to remedy it. My mom has suggested soft music at night wihile we're laying in bed, but I've only tried it once and though it seemed to calm him down, he wasn't asleep any sooner.....


I even still nurse him and lay down with him at night, and he STILL takes forever to fall asleep which gives me no hope of weaning/sleeping on his own in the near future. I'm at my wits end!

I hope things get better for you, it seems like that time after kids go to bed is so precious for us to recharge and feel like ourselves. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the encouragement and sympathy. Daylight Savings Time definitely makes it a lot harder! We do a whole soothing bedtime routine - bath, warm milk, reading in bed, candles, soft lullabyes, the whole shebang. And I still lie with her most of the time - although when I start getting too frustrated I sometimes leave her there rather than get to the boiling point. Sometimes it seems that she falls asleep easier with me not there, but sometimes the opposite. I can't figure it out.

The hardest thing for me is that the schedule seems to have to be SO rigid and completely unbreakable, or the whole delicate balance gets shot to hell. Last weekend we went camping and even though she came back exhausted, the disruption to the routine threw everything off. For the past couple of nights (after I posted here originally) she's gotten to sleep by 10, and based on her history, if we stick like glue to the schedule -*dinner by 6:30, bath by 8, in bed by 8:30, light off by 9, she'll gradually fall asleep easier and a little earlier. But even one mild deviation from the routine will screw it all up again for days if not weeks. This means we can't do anything in the evening -*no dinner out at her cousin's, no going to the free concert on the lake at 7pm, no fireworks on the 4th, for example.

I only hope her sleep gets a little more consistent as she gets older. The sad thing is, I really love snuggling up with her in bed, reading, singing to her, laying with her til she falls asleep. But when it turns into a big long struggle, I get so frustrated and enraged that it turns into turmoil for everyone -*so NOT what I want!

All that said, I'll put down here the best advice I've heard on this over the years (some of it seems to help us, some doesn't. You have to see what works for your family):

• Lots of exercise, but not right before bedtime
• Sunshine and outdoor activity in the morning. Apparently getting sunshine and fresh air in the morning helps the body clock set itself to be ready for bed at night. This actually does seem to help us, but is so foreign to my natural routine that I have a hard time doing it regularly. Must work on that!
•*Not too warm a bath before bed. Supposedly a hot bath, contrary to intuition, is stimulating and makes it harder to fall asleep.
• YOU breathe slowly and deeply while your child is resisting sleep. He will unconsciously tend to imitate your rhythm, and the oxygen and rhythm will be soothing. This used to work really well for me. Have to get back into that too!

Finally, what has worked the best for us, which is really really hard for me to do, is to LET GO of all expectation, hopes, sense of urgency, desperation, etc. Inevitably, the more accepting I am of her resistance, the less I stress and think about what I'd rather be doing, the more tolerant I am and the more I remind myself calmly that she ALWAYS falls asleep eventually, the quicker she relaxes and drops off. It is amazing to see how much they pick up on of parents' internal emotions.

Good luck, and thank you!
 

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A couple of other suggestions to add to the previous ones:

Room darkening shades -- if your child is really sensitive to light, they help tremendously.

Melatonin - it's safe for kids and it can help break the 'so tired they can't get to sleep cycle'.

A weighted blanket sometimes really helps.

I really second the getting sun in the AM, and a consistent wake up time.
 

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In terms of solid suggestions, mine are magnesium and melatonin. DD at age 5 still needs supplemental magnesium, try 100mg to start maybe, but we go higher, it's pretty individual, and DS needs melatonin, we use 1mg but some folks find 0.5mg works too.

Before we did this, wow, it was such a struggle and not making any of us happy.

Also, one other thing that helped with sleep (not sure if night-waking is an issue) is removing a few foods we're sensitive to (not ana allergies, but not good for us), for us it's gluten and dairy. But the mag and the melatonin were really helpful.
 

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DS refuses to look at books on his own, but he will listen to stories on CD. He knows that at 8:30, we're done. He picks his story and lays in the dark listening. Sometimes he makes it 30 minutes, sometimes 5. Later we go in and turn it off.

Jim Weiss is a good place to start. He also loves The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I swear, those stories are the best investment I ever made!

best of luck,
-e
 

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Our 5.5 yo ds is sensitive to the light too - both in the evenings and the mornings. He only sleeps 8-9 hours too. He wakes up between 4-5am. It's a challenge and can be challenging throughout the day. Long morning walks really help. Making the room have cave-like darkness, white noise, occasionally he sniffs the lavender essential oil bottle, and us giving into "this is the way it is for now" because it can't be this way forever...can it?
 

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Since you already have a routine that involves times, I would add the "Time for Mom to go" step where after a certain time, you head out whether she's asleep or not. If she comes out, quietly walk her back to bed, tuck her in and go. Having it as part of the routine will take care of those nights when she won't sleep and you're starting to get frustrated and it may also help her fall asleep better on her own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm definitely going to use a lot of these suggestions! I'll investigate melatonin and magnesium (are there liquid formulas? My daughter definitely can't swallow pills yet). A heavy blanket will not work for her, as she is constantly kicking at the blankets already. Audio books/stories might help, I'll definitely try that.

I'm going to sit down and look at our routine to figure out some adjustments. I think she has outgrown parts of it at this point, and maybe that's part of why it's not working too well. I'll include an end-point for sure, so we both know what that is.

So glad to know I'm not alone.
 

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The liquids I found were foul-tasting. Natural Calm (a dissolveable powder) is a brand that has multiple flavors and is supposed to be absorbed quite well, I guess I tried the wrong flavor because I didn't find it great, but lots of people love it. We just open adult capsules (mag citrate or glycinate, something like that, mag oxide isn't absorbed well) and mix it in with 1-2T juice. It doesn't really dissolve, but it suspends well enough to be swallowed.
 

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I just got some melatonin with magnesium for my son. The brand is Kirkman Labs and it is hypoallergenic. It is a capsule, but we tried it last night for the first time and just opened the capsule into a little bit of applesauce. One capsule contains 100mg magnesium and 1mg melatonin. He still didn't sleep last night, though, but it was just kind of a weird night. Does anyone know if it should work the first time you try it or if it takes time? or when you would want to increase the dose? thanks
 

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Can I suggest dropping the bath as part of the routine? That wound my SD up rather than calmed her down.

Good luck.
5-6 was TOUGH for sleeping...she still wanted to be snuggled to sleep, and frankly, we didn't want to be there motionless for the 2-3 hours it took (no matter when we started). We couldn't even get up to go to the bathroom--if she was alone for more than three seconds (literally), she freaked, threw shoes, screamed that we were hateful and neglectful and she wanted her mommy (who, BTW, endured the same episodes at her house, so this wasn't just a missing-mom thing).

But one day...it got better. She began letting us leave as she was falling asleep. Then, she began reading herself to sleep. She still doesn't get *enough* sleep (she seems to be a night owl, even when she has to get up for school/camp) but, if there's a choice between 9 hours of sleep and a 20-minute, pleasant bedtime routine followed by however much reading to herself...or 9 hours of sleep and a 90-180 minute catering-to-her-whims-and-enduring-huge-freaky-tantrum-if-not bedtime "routine," we'll pick the former.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by franklin907 View Post
I just got some melatonin with magnesium for my son. The brand is Kirkman Labs and it is hypoallergenic. It is a capsule, but we tried it last night for the first time and just opened the capsule into a little bit of applesauce. One capsule contains 100mg magnesium and 1mg melatonin. He still didn't sleep last night, though, but it was just kind of a weird night. Does anyone know if it should work the first time you try it or if it takes time? or when you would want to increase the dose? thanks
If it's the magnesium, it might take a few days because he may need more, and so a few days of build-up could help get enough to make an impact on sleep. I didn't notice anything odd the first few nights my kids took melatonin, but I had very vivid dreams the first few nights, myself (I take it nightly as well). That went away within 3 days, I think. And I _think_ it helped me fall asleep the first night I tried it, but if you're comfortable trying 1-2 more nights, that may be a better test.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mariamaroo View Post
I think she has outgrown parts of it at this point, and maybe that's part of why it's not working too well.
I was going to say this. My 5.5 year old isn't sleeping well either. He wants to stay up till midnight and only sleeps till 8:30, and I have to get him up at 6 wen he stays with me and has to go to his dad's the next morning.

His brother has always been a horrible sleeper but for some reason when he started 1st grade we haven't had any problems with him.

I never did a bedtime routine, because I hate schedules. So, being on a tight time schedule must be really hard to being with let alone fearing deviation from it!

I totally sympathize with you. As babies my boys only slept about 10 hours a day. ACK!!


It doesn't help but my boys have just naturally grown out of it. It is a struggle though.
 

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Can anyone tell me if there are any risks associated with melatonin? I remember it was kind of a fad back in the 90s, and I seem to recall some people having problems. I hesitate to bring this stuff up to my ped, because she's so mainstream, but OTOH I'm not super-crunchy myself.

My 4.5 yo has always been a night owl as well. A sleep-fighter when he was a baby/toddler. Finally when I was pregnant he weaned, and I was too tired to fight anymore. Now he watches a DVD on my bed to fall asleep, unless we are lucky enough to have him fall asleep in the car. At some point, I decided I was not going to fight him over it; I would rather he fall asleep peacefully to a DVD at 11:30 than have 2-3 hours of mutual frustration every night.

The interesting thing is that once every few weeks, he'll conk out (usually in the car) at like 5 p.m. and sleep through to the next morning.

I too am interested in hearing from people who have actually had a situation like this and done something to improve it. I already have plenty of friends who insist all I have to do is turn off the light at 8 p.m. and eventually he will sleep because there's no choice. BTDT, and it does not work for him. They don't know my kid, and implying that I'm hurting him by what I'm doing does not help me at all.
 

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If you google in Special Needs, you'll find lots of discussions of melatonin with pros and cons.

Some folks feel that supplemental melatonin suppresses actual melatonin production. Anecdotally, I haven't experienced that in myself, I've gone up and down in dosage fairly easily depending on health things I've got going on. I didn't have a problem going down in dosage after being at a higher dose for about 6 months, but there are studies out there that look at safety.

People considering it long-term should think about why their child (or they themselves) aren't making enough. I feel I understand my situation and my kids' situation well enough to be okay doing this for a few years while I work on our health issues, and I don't think people need to understand absolutely everything before trying to start solving a problem, but it's something to think about and try to find an answer for.
 
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