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Help! DS (18mo) is afraid of falling asleep. Terrified, really. Fighting sleep like crazy.

(6 Posts)
schroedingersdodo Sun 16-Oct-11 16:02:56

He slept well until 4 months old. From then on he seems to be afraid of falling asleep. He fights sleep for hours. Literally, 2 or 3 hours jumping on his cot, with glazed eyes, desperate for sleep but refusing to stay quiet for long enough to fall asleep. If he feels he's about to drift he jumps up again. (When he was younger he would throw hand and legs around and roll).

I tried to leave him alone and leave the bedroom, coming back every few seconds (a much milder version of CC). After two days, he was sleeping worse through the nigh and even more panicked at bedtime, falling asleep sitting up after a fiercer fight against sleep.

Sometimes he sleeps in the boob - because BFing is the only occasion he is still for long enough to fall asleep.

I've looked on books, researched on the internet, asked for advice. No one knows what to do. All the books/sites I've seen say, as general advice, either to let him cry (until he loses the will to live) or to put him on a sling during the day and co-sleep during the night (which we already do!).

From time to time I get desperate and rummage websites, books and everything looking for some advice. Never find anything, then I forget and for a couple of months assume I'll just have to accept it. Then it gets too much and I try to get help again. It's one of those times now smile

Please, can someone help me? Why there isn't any book that deals with this specifically? I know there are other children/babies with the same problem (fighting sleep/afrid of falling asleep), why no one talks about it?

RuthChan Sun 16-Oct-11 19:25:27

I am so sorry to hear about this.
It is so hard when children refuse to sleep even when they need to.

Can I please ask, how do you know he is afraid of going to sleep?
It is quite common for children to fight sleep and battle to stay awake, but how do you know it is fear that is driving him?

bozemum Sun 16-Oct-11 19:56:37

You poor things! I'm not going to be much help I'm afraid. I would have said lie with him quietly and reassure him everything is ok. But it sounds like you are already doing this. I think this is all you can do. It's really up to your baby to learn that it's nice to snuggle down and fall asleep. All you can do is be there and provide reassurance. I suppose you might have to be patient and remind yourself you are doing the best you can.
My ds just turned 2 and a few months ago he learnt the phase 'close the eyes' and learnt how to close his eyes. It was like a new skill he found interesting. And it helped to be able to tell him to lie down and close his eyes. You could also try and get some books where children are going to bed, snuggling in with teddy etc. So he learns that that is what people do at the end of the day.

schroedingersdodo Sun 16-Oct-11 20:52:10

Hi RuthChan I'm assuming he's afraid, because it looks like. He may be too excited to sleep, and refusing to miss all the fun (he's very curious and very interested in everything). But even after feeding for hours and even if I try to make his environment as boring as possible, he still fights sleep.

You reckon it could be something else? I'm open for every interpretation. Anything, if it helps smile

Bozemum If I lie down with him he will sit up, try to get off the bed, stand up, etc...

I've never managed to read a book with him. He won't keep quiet for long enough (he sits quietly to watch TV, though). And I'm not sure he is able to understand the story of a book (do I sound lost? I am smile

Loved the idea of teaching him to "close his eyes." I'll try that.

bozemum Tue 18-Oct-11 09:25:05

I don't know if this makes you feel any better. But my ds has never been a great sleeper. And my mum told me she knew a lady who used to drive round the block every night to get her toddler to sleep. Then carry him into the house. Not a particularly good idea. But I liked to hear that plenty people struggle and just have to figure it out. That kid must be in his 30s now. I'm sure it didn't do him any harm. He must have eventually figured out how to sleep!

schroedingersdodo Wed 19-Oct-11 18:27:08

Hi Bozemum, thanks for your message. I've read about driving around to make the baby sleep (guess my parents did that with me as well! smile. We don't have a car, but sometimes walking around in the pushchair/baby carrier can work - as long as we go by quiet streets, with nothing to see (if there's anything interesting around then DS won't shut his eyes).
It's good to be reminded that I'm not alone, and after all, it's just a phase!

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