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My 9 year old won't go to sleep/plays up at bedtime.

(36 Posts)
PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:06:58

DD shares a bedroom with DS aged 5. He goes to bed between 7:730pm, we try to settle him so he is asleep at 7:30pm but normally he won't sleep until 8pm.

DD chills out reading in the front room while he is settled, and has her story with either DH or me, depending on who is putting the other to bed. She goes to bed at 8pm, and either has a story in bed if not had one, or she is allowed to play with her dolls/read a book for 15 mins max.

Two problems.

1. She keeps getting up, or calling out, saying she can't sleep. Sometimes she has a stomach ache, sometimes she feels 'out of sorts', sometimes she just simply states she can't sleep. In particular, when we are both home, she will often get up with her bear and come into the front room in an attempt to sit with us (as soon as she has her bear with her, we know she wants to be up, the bear jingles so we know she's coming before she arrives!).

2. I have a disability which tires me out and affects my mobility. Some nights, I go to bed not very long after her. I try to wait until she is asleep, but she is now almost always still awake at 9pm and I need to lay flat by 9pm. I try to stay up, but can't always do so. DH goes out on occasions, and when he does, she comes into my room almost immediately, stating she can't sleep. It's like clockwork. I send her back to bed, or take her back to bed depending on how mobile I am feeling. But she keeps coming back.

She had the knack of being able to make me feel bad for sending her back to bed!

She won't sleep until 9:30pm most nights. This evening she did the usual 'can't sleep, almost immediately' at 8:15pm, so I let her put her small light on and read propped up with pillows for 15 minutes. DH has just gone out to visit a friend, and I heard him speaking to her in a frustrated manner before he went. I am now waiting for the sound of her bear and seeing her standing in the doorway clutching her bear with a furrow in her brow.

What can I do to get her to settle? She has a small light on when she first goes to bed, but prefers to sleep with it off, has the hallways light on with the door open a little (has to be 'just so'). DS likes to go to sleep with Cat in the Hat on, which DD also likes, or another audio book but I wondered if this actually stops her from sleeping so I have tried to see about turning it off.

Any ideas?

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:14:39

and bingo. There we have it. As I finished posting. jingle, jingle she comes up with her bear 'I still can't sleep.'. Had a chat about why that might be. Her body doesn't want to go to sleep. Talked about some relaxation techniques, thinking about being in a clearing in the woods with the family, laying on the blanket looking at the gap in the trees, listening to the birds, watching the clouds making shapes.

And. as I type this, having sent her back to bed, she has come up again. 'There's another reason mummy'. what is it? 'theres a noise. in the bedroom. A whirring noise. I am scared.' It's probably a toy [DD name]], just find it and turn it off'. 'ooooh kaaaay', She simpered.

FFS. Never get either time for myself, or time with DH as it's up and down like a fucking yo-yo. She is 9 FFS. She never used to be problematic going to sleep. Why now! ARGH.

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:15:24

I said she won't go to sleep til 9:30pm, I think it's becoming more like 10pm at the moment. It's certainly going to be that tonight.

mrstweefromtweesville Sun 12-Jul-15 21:16:45

Don't put her to bed so early. Make sure she has plenty to do in the daytime, and a relaxing ritual pre-bed. Remember she'll feel lonely and shut out of mum and dad's world when she's sent to bed. Google some 'getting to sleep' strategies and teach her.

Or, get her a room of her own and let her sleep when she likes. She's really too old to be sharing with a five year old.

Everythinghaschanged Sun 12-Jul-15 21:17:12

I think 8pm is very early for a 9 year old.

Everythinghaschanged Sun 12-Jul-15 21:18:46

Also at 8pm it's still light on the summer. No wonder she can't sleep. My 8 year old just wouldn't be tired at that time.

mrstweefromtweesville Sun 12-Jul-15 21:18:47

Please stop resenting her and see things from her point of view. I understand that you're tired and need private time - but have you explained that to her? Even if you have, her own fears, loneliness etc will motivate her to come to you, but try anyway.

cuntycowfacemonkey Sun 12-Jul-15 21:20:57

Tbh it sounds like attention seeking that has just become a habit. I would just keep returning her to bed without engaging in conversation. Tell her she can read if she wants but if she gets out of bed there will be consequences.

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:21:37

She's now back up. Again. Crying. There's a noise like someone hoovering next door. She is in tears. FFS.

IHaveBrilloHair Sun 12-Jul-15 21:21:46

Maybe she just isn't tired earlier, or maybe she's taking the piss at bedtime.
At her age she is quite capable of reading a book, getting herself to the toilet or letting you know if it's a serious issue.
I'd be calling that bad behaviour with punishments.

cuntycowfacemonkey Sun 12-Jul-15 21:22:21

Missed the 8pm bedtime bit and agree that maybe negotiating a later bedtime would be better on the understanding that if she doesn't stick to it then it's back to 8pm.

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:24:17

mrstwee regardless of her being too old to share with a 5 year old, it's already something I am hugely aware of, and is something that causes a lot of guilt. However, poor health, a loft conversion that went wrong (charlatan builder) means, them sharing a room is not a choice, so I have to simply find another way.

purplemurple1 Sun 12-Jul-15 21:24:29

I was a bad sleeper in that I don't need much sleep (my toddlers are looking like they are the same) ao my mum had a rule I must stay quite while my young sib got to sleep then I could read or play quietly in the room but must not wake little sib or come downstairs. Would that work for yours?

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:25:02

I don't mind her reading, quietly in her room until she is sleepy. But it's the getting up and down that's the problem. She has blackout blinds.

BiscuitMillionaire Sun 12-Jul-15 21:25:54

I sympathise as my 9-yr-old takes an age to get to sleep. Luckily he doesn't come down, but he just messes around with a torch, reading or whatever... which still drives me NUTS as he's still awake at 10pm and then tired the next day. He usually has lights out at 9pm, btw. I do think 8pm is early, unless you get up very early.

Maybe you could have a discussion with her (not at bedtime) where you offer to make a deal - she can stay up later (till say, 8.45) on condition that she doesn't get up once her light is out. If she gets up, then she has to go to bed at 8pm the next night.

purplemurple1 Sun 12-Jul-15 21:26:16

Any deviation from the rules was punished as bad behaviour.

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:28:10

What time would you suggest she goes to bed? is 9pm reasonable? She is very active in the day time, on the go from the moment she wakes to the moment she goes to bed, does activities in the week (not every day, but enough to keep her moving and using up energy), wakes early (6-6:30am, even when asleep at 9:30pm), which is why I hadn't really considered 8:30pm sleeping to be hugely problematic.

But I'll consider changing her bedtime. She always has a good routine. Teeth/wash, stories either with us in the front room or in bed, then either dollies or reading for a little while.

She is very tired the following day when she stays awake late.

LovelyFriend Sun 12-Jul-15 21:31:21

My 7yo is similar.

She is getting much better. We had a talk about how important sleep is. How I need to do stuff in the evenings and I like a bit of time to do some things for myself, just as she has enjoyed her activities. And how silly shenanigans at bed time are out of order and make for a grumpy mummy and I really prefer not to be grumpy.

The time to eat, drink, talk about upset tummy etc is BEFORE bedtime. Getting up is for toilet only. That is it!

And I stay quite Strick about it. No nonsense at bedtime. So we do the story, cuddle, chat, dd2 usually falls asleep, kiss goodnight and then I might have to pop back in to say light out end of this chapter.

I taught her to count her breaths and use the basic "so hum" meditation. She does this if she can't sleep.

She is allowed to read until 8.30 but I've noticed she is pushing this more towards 9 and that is ok as long as she isn't tired and cranky during the day.

If we have much silliness then it's light out at 8 and an early night. Usually it's needed if we have behavioural issues around bed time.

She really has improved greatly since I explained how tiring and annoying I find silly bedtime behaviours and made her responsible for her night time routine.

Reading really helps. She shares with a younger sibling (some people have no option but to do this) but has her own reading light which she loves.

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:32:12

purple I try to do that now, she is not allowed music, unless it's through her headphones but she doesn't mind not having music, no TV before bedtime so she is not 'wired' and she is normally good at being quiet in terms of not waking her sibling up (once he is asleep he will sleep through anything!).

I think I agree that re-iterating the rules, and the consequences of those rules when it's not bedtime is a good idea, what is acceptable and what isn't.

Do you think it would be helpful to give her some relaxation music to listen to? She is quite like me in that she often has millions of thoughts whizzing through her head most of the time, so maybe listening to something calming might help her switch off? DH doesn't need much sleep, literally he can live on 5-6 hours for most of the week as long as he gets a change to have 8 or so once a week/every 10 days. But, DD is clearly tired the following day.

LovelyFriend Sun 12-Jul-15 21:37:02

Also when she does get to sleep at a good time talk with her about how different she feels, how much more pleasant the day is after a good nights sleep etc. Reinforce the positive consequences of her improved bed time routine.

Dd1 has discovered how great it is to wake before the rest of us and potter around getting ready by herself which she loves (once she is ready for school she can have some iPad time grin).

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:43:18

I mean, I will consider her having music through headphones if would help her.

So. I will do the following from tomorrow.

- have a calm chat and remind her of the importance of sleep (not that I haven't done that a million times!), the need for us all to have some quiet time before bed (her, as well as DH/me)

- use that discussion to remind her of what is acceptable (reading is ok, playing with her dolls is ok - she loves roleplaying her day/things on her mind, noise and disturbing her brother is not).

- bed at 8:30pm, 30 mins reading or whatever, lights out at 9pm. I will let her that if she refuses to play ball with this, I will change her time back to 8pm with lights out at 8:30pm.

(there is no way DH will go for anything later than that, not yet! I did tell him that 8pm for sleep at 8:30 or so was probably far too early, he accepts, but doesn't want her up too late, neither do i!).

Someone said about a nightlight. She also has one of those, they both have their own, as DS sometimes wakes earlier than DD (5:45am yesterday), so he reads in the morning (or comes and wake me up!). He sometimes wakes DD up, not always.

Someone also mentioned about making sure she knows I am tired/need time to myself/about my health, sorry can't remember who. She knows all this already, as unfortunately, my health is all-consuming sad, I don't want her to feel bad or responsible for any lapses in my health though, so try not to go on about it too regularly. There is enough of it taking over our lives as it is!

Thank you all. I will take on board all your suggestions.

Artandco Sun 12-Jul-15 21:44:28

I would move bedtime back

So you say 5 year old is asleep by 8pm. Then let her use that 8-9pm to relax and wind down with you in living room. Maybe had some quiet relaxing music on, read to her for 15 mins, then let her read to herself or out loud to you until just before 9pm. Bed at 9pm. She only gets to do the nice stuff with you between 8-9pm on condition she quietly goes to sleep or reads to herself in bed without coming in and out.

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:47:39

lovely oh don't get me started on the morning! They have their clothes ready for the morning. And occasionally she will get herself dressed before we are up, but rarely! I am amazed at how bloody long it can take her to get ready. She gets distracted so easily!

No iPad time before school, but, once they are ready for school, like ready to walk out the door, they can watch some TV (can't put it on before they get ready as otherwise they simply won't get ready! it can take them 20 mins to get shoes on while fixated on the goggle box!).

That's not actually completely true. If they get up before us (not often as DH and i get up quite early), they can put the TV on quietly, but it goes off when we are up, til they are ready to go.

Weekends are more relaxed. They can watch the TV quietly, or go on DDs hudl until her time runs out. Again we often get up early though as DS needs to eat almost as soon as he gets up!

Artandco Sun 12-Jul-15 21:47:59

Oh and I think you and dh do need to remember she will need less sleep as she gets older. So you can't always have time without her before bed. Soon she will probably be going to bed at the same time or later than you.

In comparison my 5 and 4 year olds have bedtime around 9pm school nights, no bedtime fri/ say nights or in school holidays.

PavlovtheCat Sun 12-Jul-15 21:51:26

art yes, I said that to DH this evening, it definitely won't be long before she is up later than me! Weekends are more relaxed for bedtimes, we will watch a movie or play games together, or have friends visit with their children/visit others and they will stay up later then. They don't generally lie in as a result though grin

Oh, blimey. She really is growing up now!

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