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Ideas for helping 3.5yo to get back to sleep?

(3 Posts)
beancounting Thu 30-Jan-14 22:31:23

Sorry this is long and rambling.

The latest in a long line of sleep issues with 3.5yo DD1 is that she has started waking up in the middle of the night (any time between midnight and 4am) and then really struggling to get back to sleep, taking up to 2 hours to nod off again. As soon as she wakes she starts to cry saying that she can't get back to sleep, either DH or I goes in to reassure her but she just starts to sob and refuses to lie down, close her eyes etc, and she needs near constant attention (we're in and out of her room every few minutes) until she finally relaxes enough to fall back asleep.

I think what she would like is for one of us (ideally me) to sit with her or cuddle her until she falls asleep again but we are reluctant to do that (it took a long time and a lot of effort to teach her to fall asleep on her own when she was about 2 and as we have a 6mo who wakes several times a night we really don't want to go down that road again). So we try to settle her in her bed and check on her every 5 minutes which she has previously been fine with, but now she gets really upset and angry, which clearly doesn't help, and because we are all knackered we often all end up upset and cross.

We have tried letting her listen to audio books (this works at bedtime when she has trouble nodding off) and switching the light on so she can look at books quietly for a bit but she will then do this for hours, apparently forcing herself to stay awake despite being obviously tired. We have tried reward charts, reasoning with her and cuddling her, being stern with and shouting at her. I have tried teaching her simple ways to relax (counting, tensing and relaxing her body, trying to remember the things she has done that day, etc). She has a gro clock which has always worked well in terms of letting her know when it's time to get up, so she knows it is still night time. We don't want to let her sleep in with us, partly as she is so fidgety that neither DH nor I gets any sleep and partly because we already have DD2 in our room and they wake each other up.

I'm worried that it's becoming a self-perpetuating thing and that all the effort we're making to help her is just making it more of an issue and making her more anxious when she wakes up, but I don't know how to stop it being an issue as the sleep deprivation is really affecting us all.

I don't know how much longer we can cope with this so any suggestions would be gratefully received.

ToughTimes Fri 31-Jan-14 02:42:20

This is us at the moment.. My DS (almost 3) is doing exactly the same thing. We're putting it down to night terrors, however we have succumbed and DH sleeps on ds's floor when he's particularly hysterical. Like you, we also worked really hard at getting ds to self settle if he woke up in the night. However, in December he got an ear infection and things have never been the same since..

So sorry, no help but loads of sympathy..

beancounting Sat 01-Feb-14 20:35:40

Oh well, at least it's not just us! Hope it gets better for us both soon...

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