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'I don't need sleep mum. ' - How do I convince him...?!

(28 Posts)
Smee Mon 27-Oct-08 15:21:41

DS (4) has always been a lousy sleeper, but the current problem is a new one. He's tired at bedtime (7.45-8), but fights sleep even though his eyes are rolling around like a cartoon character. He's often still awake at 9.30. He stays in bed (though he does call out every ten minutes or so, which is more than annoying as I work in the evenings). I keep calm, go back to see him regularly, and usually end up putting some music on for him to listen to.
We always have the same gentle bed time routine - game, bath, story in bed. He's happy to go to bed too. If I ask him about why he can't get to sleep he insists he doesn't need to. I've tried explaining how we all need sleep - how lovely it is - how even superheroes need it, but still he reckons he doesn't. I have no idea why he thinks this hmm
Any ideas anyone? It's driving me mad as he's so tired next day and I'm losing my evenings.

RedOnHerBeheadedHead Mon 27-Oct-08 15:24:50

maybe he needs to go to bed slightly earlier than bedtime at the moment. He could be tired and ready for bed before then, and keeping him up until then makes him over tired maybe?

RedOnHerBeheadedHead Mon 27-Oct-08 15:26:17

i would forget the music too, you may be setting a sign that it is ok for him to stay awake to listen to the music.

LoveMyGirls Mon 27-Oct-08 15:27:44

I think you're being far too soft tbh why do you put music on?

I would say no music just a book and no calling out, if wants to be awake fine but you are not goignt o keep coming up because he needs to sleep and you need to work.

lilymolly Mon 27-Oct-08 15:27:44

I would be tempted to put him to bed and leave him alone? how do you know he is awake @ 9.30pm?
Maybe he just doesnt need that much sleep hmm
but even if this was the case, then I still think he needs to be in bed on an evening if only to give you and dh a bit or peace grin

My friends children were apparantly like this hmm and did not go to bed until 10pm- they were clearly knackered. I would kick ass if this happened in my house tbh.

I luuuuuurve bedtime

lilymolly Mon 27-Oct-08 15:28:24

and agree no music

Smee Mon 27-Oct-08 15:36:06

Thanks for quick replies - to explain though, he goes to bed 7.45/8pm and doesn't get any music then, but has a story in bed, then snuggles down and that's where he stays and knows he has to stay. I leave him, I say goodnight, I say you're not to call out and we've won that battle, so he doesn't. This lasts for about the first half hour. Then he does call out. After that, he's more and more tired and more and more fed up, so calls out every ten minutes or so - can't say I blame him really, as it's a long time to be alone and awake when you're four. Music never ever goes on until 9 and he's not holding out for it as I don't do it every night. It's only a gentle quiet distraction for a boy who's still awake over an hour after getting into bed.
I'm clueless as to why he doesn't just drop off as soon as he's in bed. He genuinely seems to have a problem with it.
+ I've tried putting him to bed earlier, but that makes not one bit of difference hmm
Any/ all ideas welcomed..!

kitbit Mon 27-Oct-08 15:44:57

Bribery! ds is also 4 and althugh he happily goes upstairs as he likes his bedtime routine, finds it hard to drop off.
If he lies still (no fiddling with the duvet, tapping fingers, twitching feet), doesn't play with his bear and closes his eyes, this is counted as "good sleeping" and aside from the fact that he'll drop off within a few mins if he does these, he gets a sticker on his sleeping chart. Currently on 5 stickers=little treat.
I do have to stay with him though, but if I do he calms right down and gets to "good sleeping" within 10 mins and by 20 he's asleep. That's good for us and little Mr Sleep-is-for-the-Weak"!

Otherwise just skip forward to the thing that makes him go off. If music does it, put the music on at the start and cut to the chase.

I'd say bribery though, motivation to do it himself always works best with ds rather than pressure from us!

kitbit Mon 27-Oct-08 15:50:13

oops cross posted as slow typing!

Just to say again, if the music does help and when it goes on he manages to go to sleep, is there a problem with putting it on earlier?
And if you stay does he get to sleep faster?

We have decided that actually, does it matter if I sit and hold his hand for 20 mins? It's not really a problem and anyway, I get to have some quiet chillout time where I CANNOT be racing around the house like a mad thing. Plus ds likes it. When he's ready we'll do the gradual withdrawal from the room thing, but until then it helps the whole family to start the night calmly, so great, works for us!

Smee Mon 27-Oct-08 16:00:07

Kitbit, I like where you're coming from and am all for bribery, but he doesn't really fidgit or mess around, he just lies there with his eyes open hmm.
+ music, yes have tried it earlier, but it makes no difference to how long it takes him to go to sleep - and it is in effect my bribery, as if I put it on later, it halts the frequency of his requests for me to go back.
Staying wiht him, well yes, but I used to do that and that made no difference either. Also it's my work time (much needed grin), so am loathed to give it up. Some nights, I do end up sitting in his doorway reading, but that's a true last resort and only if he's starting to get upset. I would so love to break this cycle though. Most bizarre..

kitbit Mon 27-Oct-08 16:23:47

Well ds's latest thing is a version of counting sheep. If you read stories once he's lying down he'll keep bobbing up and asking questions. So, instead, in a monotone I relate the story of how all the animals go to bed one by one. It's a boring as I can possibly make it with as much detail as possible to prevent questions! eg, 1 little tiger goes across the jungle, he's v tired, says goodnight to his friends, goes home, his house is orange and stripy, the doorhandle is black, his duvet cover is pink, he gets into bed and falls sloooooowly asleep....then 2 little snakes who are verrry tired... etc etc. Sounds rubbish written down, but I think it must bore him to sleep! I rarely get beyond 5 or 6. He wants to hear what the next animal is so has to lie quietly otherwise I stop.

If I leave him lying by himself he does exactly the same as your ds, so I wondered if something similar might work!

Also the obvious - up early and no daytime naps, but I'm dead sure you're already there!

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Mon 27-Oct-08 16:26:23

I had this problem with ds for years before I realised that he thought he didn't sleep because the nights go so quickly when he was asleep he didn't realise he had been asleep IYSWIM.

Stories read out in monotone work a treat. Maybe you could tape some and play them to him when he goes to bed. The more monotone the better.

Smee Mon 27-Oct-08 16:32:25

Good idea PoftheCCA - though am not sure with him if it'll work. Along same logic, music I play is low key and low volume, idea being he'll nod off as it's not new. Doesn't work grin!

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Mon 27-Oct-08 16:35:29

You could try telling him just to close his eyes and pretend he's asleep in the hope that he'll nod off this way. I would turn it into a game, who can keep their eyes closed and keep still the longest. Sneaky but might work wink

Smee Mon 27-Oct-08 16:46:38

Yep good one and he loves games. But I have already tried it...

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Mon 27-Oct-08 16:48:21

hmm. Star chart with a reward at the end of the week?

Smee Mon 27-Oct-08 17:45:45

Yep, another goodie. Trouble is that he is actually being quite good already. He's certainly not being naughty. He just seems genuinely to have the idea that he can't sleep, so therefore he doesn't. He's in his bed, he's mostly quiet, but he's still awake well over an hour after being there.

Acinonyx Mon 27-Oct-08 20:06:41

This might seem nuts but it is working for us so far. Dd (3.4) often stays awake after bedtime - not every time - but quite often. We used to always offer music but she doesn't want it anymore. She's afraid of the dark and we leave a dimmer on low (I don't fight it - I had a light until I was 17!).

If we finish the stories etc and she says she's not sleepy, she can get out of bed and play beside the bed with her blocks or something left by the bed for this purpose. Then when she's ready, she gets back into bed. Sometimes she just plays for a few minutes, sometimes longer. But she always puts herself to bed and goes off to sleep. It has totally done away with the bedtime struggle which is partly a power thing.

It started in desperation one night when it got to 10.45 and we really wanted to go to bed. I heard her put herself to bed about 11. I also think it's genuinely very frustrating to be lying in bed unable to sleep.

Smee Mon 27-Oct-08 20:18:27

Not nuts at all Acinonyx, I like a bit of alternative thinking. Trouble is am slightly loathed to say it's okay to get out of bed, as what if it makes things worse?!.. I do agree though, it's horrible to be awake in bed for ages, so maybe I'll give it a go. It's kind of weird with him, as it doesn't seem to be a power thing or a bedtime struggle, more a genuine dilemma that he hasn't a clue how to do it.
+ he does have lights - bright pink fairy lights which he chose and loves. He's not scared I'm sure - he's so vocal, I'm sure he'd tell us grin

Acinonyx Mon 27-Oct-08 20:31:39

That is my big worry - so if you ask me again in a few months maybe I'll regret it!

For us, I'm sure she gets to sleep much quicker because she's not lying awake thinking about how much she can't sleep.

Smee Mon 27-Oct-08 20:47:29

I do so like the logic, but it took us so long to get him to stay in his bed once there, that to go back on that would be a very daring step (+ I think DH would think I'd lost the plot if I even suggested it wink)

MatNanPlus Mon 27-Oct-08 20:55:22

Rather than him getting out of bed to play can he not have a table puled up next to the bed so he can sit on his bed and play then lie down when tired?

cory Tue 28-Oct-08 09:46:48

Does it have to be horrible to lie awake in bed for an hour? IME as long as you are not stressing about it (and noone else is stressing on your behalf!) you can get as much rest that way as by actually sleeping. Tell him that it's ok to just lie quietly and think about something nice, walk away, don't check on him. He'll drop off eventually.

shabster Tue 28-Oct-08 09:56:50

My 4th DS (now 11) didn't sleep through the night till he was 5 years old. We had the routine etc etc. He didn't want to come into our bed - he just couldnt sleep.

The HV helped me for many weeks to try and find a solution. At the end when she had no luck her actual words were 'If he was mine I would throw him through the bloody window!! grin To be honest that was my turning point. When I realised that I was not imagining how difficult he was.

When he was 4 he said 'I hate going to sleep, its the most boring invention ever!!'

He started High school in September and now is asleep by 9pm and I have to almost carry him out of bed in the morning!!

Wish he could have gone to High school when he was about 2!!

Smee Wed 29-Oct-08 19:58:29

cory - I agree absolutely there's nothing wrong with chill time. It's just that he's so tired next day, plus he calls out every ten minutes (then more frequently as time goes on), so I don't get an evening and I need it to work.
shabster - I have hopes school might do it for us too (starts January). lol at what your son said - why do they think like that?

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