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3 year old sleep pattern - is this a problem?

(1 Post)
jhs2zz Thu 17-Sep-15 10:21:36


Our 3 year old seems to develop some sleep problems but we are not sure if it is really the case. I'd like to share our story here as we have looked at lots of sources but we could not figure out what to do and if we need to do anything.

We think he probably has not got enough sleep: he wakes up early - 6am - which is normal by most standards, but take into account that he has stopped napping and goes to bed around 8am. I read that you would expect child at this age to have 11-12 hours of night sleep.

When he wakes up he looks cheerful and happy, but then he usually shows signs of tiredness around 8:30am or so, like rubbing his eyes, or getting a little bad tempered. Then after say, 30 minutes or an hour, he seems to get over it and ok again until noon.

During weekdays at nursery, he refuses to nap. So everyday he comes home around 6pm, he is often extremely tired and does tantrum. If it is weekend, we will ask him to nap for an hour. When he does, he will just drop off within 1 minute, clearly he is very tired by then. But he never naps at nursery, maybe there are too much distraction. However, napping also means delayed bedtime later, even if we put him to bed around 7:30pm or 8pm, he will not fall asleep until 9pm, and then the next day, still wakes up at 6am.

We have tried a number of things that I can find:
- his room is dark: in fact recently when he wakes up at 6am, it is still dark outside
- earlier bedtime: definitely not work if he's had a nap. As said earlier, he will just stay awake, sing, talk to himself, until about 9pm. On a work day, sometimes we manage to rush him to bed by 7:30pm, next morning still 6am wake-up.
- later bedtime: just makes it worse as occasionally he goes to bed at 10pm due to e.g., family events, next day wakes up at 6am sharp, or at most 6:30, and is even more tired
- stick to a wake-up time: he understands he needs to lie in bed and not come out of his room until 7am when his clock rings, and he usually does stay there until then (there's an exception recently I'll describe below). But he just lie awake, as you can hear him talk to himself, sing, play...
- stay with him when he wakes up and soothe him back to sleep: 8/10 times did not work. He would lie in bed 'quietly' holding on to his soft toys, not making any noise, and believe it or not he can really do that for 1-1.3 hours! But still, not falling asleep again.

A recent change from 3/4 months ago is that he had been well potty trained, and more than 50% of days he wakes up with wet pants, the nappy is just not absorbent enough. Wet or dry, he would walk out, come to us and asks to remove his nappy, maybe he does not like it anymore. Some people said to us it could be this that keeps him waking up early, when he is in 'shallow' sleep, it may make a little sense as I do recall when he was 2 or 2 and half, he did sleep until 7am or 7:30 for about 50% of time.

But it seems the trickiest bit is that, once he wakes up in the morning, he just naturally stays awake and do not go back to sleep again, no matter how late he went to bed the day before, or how early he wakes up (as early as 5:30 but rarely).

What's your opinion? I'd really appreciate any thoughts or tips on this. Thanks in advance!

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