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2 part question on 4 yr + sleep 'issues' - experiences and tips, this way please!

(12 Posts)
cookiemonstress Mon 20-Oct-08 14:25:27

Hoping for encouragement and practical advice.

dd1 nearly 4. Developed good sleep 'hygiene' practices from early age and basically bar normal BF wake-ups (finishing at 9 months) teething etc, slept well (no night waking etc) until 2.5 yrs. The last 18 months though have been different story.

Last year, hellish 6 months of constant night waking and wanderings (into our bed), the 'supernanny' rapid return took months to take full effect (and was practised v consistently).

Since then, sleep been off and on but have fears it's going off again.
Now she has developed whole fear of the dark, monsters, not wanting to be on her own (even though she shares a room with her sister). She will only sleep with bright night light on (used to be dark) which is not great for her sister and I thought I'd read that you don't get a good restorative sleep if you sleep with bright lights? She has big fear of moon as well, so curtains have to be pulled across.

What's the best way to manage this? When she wakes in the night, she wakes the whole house and then there are 2 children awake. I can't do the co-sleeping thing as we have tiny double bed and she sleeps horizontally and we have barely any decent sleep.

She wakes early (always has done) and somedays looks knackered and is clearly tired. She is being referred to ENT specialist as she does snore very loudly and has large tonsils, so don't know how much this contributes.

She goes to sleep by 7.45 latest after bath, teeth, story routine. No naps in the day, occasionnally she may drop off in car at weekend.

Everyone told me she would grow out of the night, unreasonably early wakings when she got to pre-school but not the case. If you have had a child with sleep issues, when did it really start to get to better?

katiek123 Mon 20-Oct-08 14:36:10

hi cookie - god, massive commiserations. i am mum to a very anxious 7 yr old who went through a lot of what you describe aged 4. it got gradually better thankfully and by 5 she was 'only' waking once or twice and for v short periods.now she is loads better and even slept in until 7.20 today gasp(!). the early morning wakenings got loads better once she started school age 5 too. i am sure you will get lots of specific tips from all the experienced mums out there but i just wanted to say it will definitely get better. when it's all anxiety-related it's really hard to implement the supernanny-style advice i reckon and we kind of muddled through with (as i am sure you are doing) loads of reassurance and trying not to BLOW OUR TOPS at her in the middle of the night (though god it's hard not to!!!). that's why i don't feel qualified to give specific tips!! good luck and i promise this stage won't go on forever.

cookiemonstress Mon 20-Oct-08 14:44:29

ah, thank you..had a bad night last night hence post today. I know it will come to an end at some point, but just in need to the reassurance ! School can't come soon enough!

needmorecoffee Mon 20-Oct-08 14:48:01

dd is 4.7 and still has horrible sleep issues. If she wakes at night she will sob and scream for hours despite cuddles. She doesn't go to bed till 10 but till wakes at 7 or before.

SmileyMylee Mon 20-Oct-08 23:18:22

Sounds a bit like my middle child a few years ago. She's now six and sleeps well.

The only two things I remember doing were

1. 'Blowing the bad dreams away.' When she woke up, I cuddled her and gently blew the bad dreams away, and then gave her a new dream to dream about which calmed her down enough to go to sleep. I then started to do this as part of her night time routine.

2. Sleep fairy - if she stayed in her bed and didn't wake early, the sleep fairy would leave her a little present in a special box in the bathroom.

She still likes to go to sleep with the light on, but is happy for it to be switched off once asleep as long as there is a nightlight on.

I hope you find a solution for you as disrupted sleep is a real killer.

cookiemonstress Tue 21-Oct-08 11:11:05

sleep fairy, a brilliant idea! thanks for that. At the moment, she is waking 4 am on the dot (which i find pref to the 1am wakings) and is going back to sleep after a bit of coaxing.

MrsFreedy Tue 21-Oct-08 13:51:13

Had the same problem with 3.5yr old dd who was dreaming of monsters and would wake up crying 2 or 3 times during the night. She is a twin and shared a room with ds twin 2.

To make her feel more settled and secure in going to sleep we would get ready for bed then go around the room together, look in wardrobes behind things etc, and tell all the monsters etc to leave the room as dd wanted to go to bed and didn't want to be woken up. We also made a notice and stuck it to the door telling the monsters not to go into the room. I settled her down turned on the nightlight on but left the door open. It did help and the monsters left her alone and the bad dreams have become less and less.

Since then on the ocassions she does wake up because of the monsters I take her back to her bed, settle her down and tell the monster/s off and to leave the room. We did not want her to get into the habit of sleeping in our bed everytime she had a bad dream otherwise we would never have gotten her out!

All this whilst ds twin 2 slept in the same room.

However you may find that all these sleep problems your dd is having relates to her snoring etc.

SmileyMylee Tue 21-Oct-08 22:36:12

Another thing we tell the children which appears to reassure them, is that nothing bad can get into the house as there's too much love in it.

My youngest was concerned about Goblins for a while and this reassured him.

cookiemonstress Wed 22-Oct-08 20:18:09

Goblins.. is that Noddy and his influences?!
Result. Slept all the way through last night, so thanks for a lot of the tips, seems to be working..fingers crossed!

googgly Wed 22-Oct-08 20:36:23

Exactly like my 3.11 yo. I love this sleep fairy idea. Too late for tonight, but I'll try it tomorrow for sure.

toadstool Wed 22-Oct-08 22:35:48

Tried and tested with DD1 (now 6 and still a dreadful sleeper):

1. Dream catcher for nightmares (it 'didn't work', but it did calm her down when nightmares were a problem)
2. Her own bedside lamp for night-time wakings.
3. A quiet alarm clock. No leaving the room until she can see it's 6AM.
4. Portable radio in her room set quite low on Classic FM. She soothes herself at night and listens to it when she wakes up too early. It also keeps the 'monster' noises out (the boiler, creaking stairs, etc.)
(If you're OK about her reading numbers on digital clocks, you could just put an alarm clock radio in the bedroom).
HTH

SmileyMylee Wed 22-Oct-08 23:19:50

Cookiemonstress - good luck for tonight.

Re Goblins - yes it is a Noddy influence - I thought I was safe with this as a bed time TV programme - but obviously not.

Re sleepfairy - Penelope Leach gave me this one, she did a talk at my work and she was kind enough to give me some advice afterwards. What was really nice was seeing the look on my 8 year old's face after the sleepfairy had been. Normally she's quite a streetwise 8 year old (you know the type) but when she opened the box, she was my little girl again, full of wonder and magic!

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