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Helping Spirited Kids Sleep

761 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  amybw
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I don't really have suggestions, but I'm right there with you.
My son is 5 and now sleeps in his brother's bed. (Even though his bed is in the same room.) And every night is a struggle to get him to stay in bed. It doesn't matter if it's midnight, he'll still say he's not tired.
And he also even had trouble when we were co-sleeping. We would put him in between us and he would roll over the top of us onto the floor!
I know he has a much better attitude when he gets more rest, so I'm hoping someone here will have some good ideas about what to do.
Oh how I can relate
our ds who will turn 3 in June has been a horrible sleeper from day 1. Heck, he would toss and turn whilst in utero at 3:00am EVERY night. I knew we were in for many sleepless nights.

He is also a very spirited child. We co-sleep, but have introduced him to his own toddler bed, which is pushed up against our bed. However, most nights I end up sleeping in his bed or he comes into ours because he wakes up so often. Lately he has been scratching himself awake. He is constantly itchy. I've tried EVERYTHING. I even got desperate and bought an antihistimine for him last night. It's supposed to relieve itching due to allergic reactions. I'm suspecting a food allergy.

This night-waking has caused much stress between dh and I. And I have noticed a correlation between his behaviour when he does not get much sleep. I night-weaned him 5 months ago and then finally weaned him 3 months ago hoping that would make him sleep better. It did. A little, but not much. UGH....HELP!!!!!!
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Might not be related... but we had major sleep issues all along. And a little guy who cried alot at night. It turned out that some of the sleep issues were food allergy related. We went from having a three year old that woke up 5 times a night to a 4 and a half year old that now rarely wakes in the night. Major behavior changes too!Just thought Id add that to any other advice you may get!
My spirited child ended up wit a diagnosis of SID. She's getting better with age. She also was dx with seasonal allergies and putting her on Claritin helped a lot with her behavior.

Make sure to do some sensory stuff before bedtime. Jumping on a trampoline or swinging on a swingset helps a lot to calm the system down. I know it doesn't make much sense but it works. Secondly, make the bed feel like a coocoon as much as you can. I put a double layer of egg crate mattress covers on the bed, followed by a thick comforter, followed by a bedsheet. She sunk down like a feather bed and it really helped. This is NOT safe for young babies.
My spirited child benefitted a lot from a very strict sleep schedule. He goes to bed within a half hour window and generally wakes on his own within an hour window. But the strict bedtime really helped. He also is very sensitive to the cycle of daylight, getting sleepy at dusk but if I put him to bed at 6:30 he wouldn't sleep well at night. So I turn off all lights I don't really need (we have white christmas lights around the living room so those are about all that stays on), close the blinds and get him in the bath. He takes a bath for about 30 minutes and that gets us over the hump without him getting a second wind.

Now that it is daylight savings, we have been struggling to find a good bedtime, it gets dark so much later! Oh and he seems like he could use a nap but he takes naps that are too long and then can't get to sleep at night (plus he can only fall asleep around 3pm). He just turned 4 but hasn't napped since he weaned at 2.5. He gets less sleep than "they" say a kid his age needs but since he wakes himself in the morning, I feel that it must be as much as he needs.
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Do you know if he is uncomfortable at night (allergy, digestive issue, sensitive to detergent, sensitive to ambient noise, etc.)?

Does he sleep better at night if he's had a nap? (My kids always sleep worse if they're overtired; knowing if this is a major part of the problem might affect how you attack it.)

Are there sure-fire ways of getting him to sleep in the afternoon? A car ride or stroller ride?

If afternoon naps just aren't going to happen (and he is older than many kids are when they give up naps), does a quiet time help? A mellow video or book or massage time?
My DD is also a very dynamic high energy child. At LEAST an hour of non-stop physical activity in the afternoon helps us out. If she does happen to fall asleep in the car I leave her there for at least 45 minutes - otherwise she would never np, but this rarely happens anyway.

Could also be that your child is growing - they grow at night. I know when my DD is because she wakes, tosses and turns and is just generally cranky.

My DD also benefits from a bedtime routine, and even then last night she had a hard time falling asleep so i went and cuddled her and massaged her back and she was asleep in 5 minutes. Strange that when they are over tired they have a harder time winding down!
It is strange that when they're over tired they have a harder time sleeping. Yesterday we woke up extra early since it was Easter and all day my 5 year old was just really acting up and trying to cause trouble. I'm sure the Easter candy didn't help, he was really wound up.
So finally I told him to sit down and be quiet since I was trying to put the baby to sleep. I pretty much blinked and he was out! It was early but he slept the rest of the night!
My eldest has a cup of chamomile tea (he likes it iced) about a half hour before bed and that helps to calm his transition.
My youngest though has NEVER slept well. He is 3 and can go on 3 hours of sleep a night with no nap sometimes! With a baby and his homeschooled brother to care for I NEED my sleep. So, he gets 3mg. of melatonin a night about an hour before bed and it helps him to STAY asleep through the night.
Hey it's great to see other mom's with boys like mine. I beat myself up daily about what I need to do better so I can make his routine better or how I can make things different for a boy who is creative, very smart and apparently sees through my deficiencies enough to find ways to try me DAILY!

We have cousins who are 6 months older (female) and 3 months younger (male) from my 3 1/2 yo who routinely go without naps so they will go to sleep earlier. At first I was like ok that maybe I should try that but I immediately recognized my child's reaction. I would rather stay up until 3 am than see his behavior from no nap... sorry. He needs that nap. It is good for him.

I use essential oils on his feet, and some homeopathic remedies to help calm his brain down as it is very very active and my husband lays with him in his big boy bed. I'm fine with it, he's getting better at fighting sleep as he gets older--We have a queen size bed that yeah, all four of us are in at one time--quite regularly but it's getting better (meaning dispersing the room in the bed)....Now that he is older I can reason with him/converse which is awesome so I feel more effective obviously.

Thanks for knowing I'm not the only one.
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Originally Posted by Village Mama
Might not be related... but we had major sleep issues all along. And a little guy who cried alot at night. It turned out that some of the sleep issues were food allergy related. We went from having a three year old that woke up 5 times a night to a 4 and a half year old that now rarely wakes in the night. Major behavior changes too!Just thought Id add that to any other advice you may get!
How did you begin this process of finding out?

My son has never slept very well.
I feel so sad for him.


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