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3 years of no sleep and I'm losing my mind

(13 Posts)
eversomuch Tue 20-Oct-15 21:27:07

DS (nearly 3) is and always has been a horror about going to bed, staying in bed, etc. (Never napped as an infant, still rarely sleeps through the night). I think I'm actually depressed now from years of not getting a decent night's sleep and feeling liked a horrible parent & I cannot bear the thought of things continuing as they've been.

Physical issues have been ruled out after several visits to GPs.

We keep a really consistent schedule with tea around 5:30, bath around 6:30, followed by story & cuddles just before 7pm. Then the nightly battle begins.

I'm the only one he will let put him to bed. If DH tries, DS has a meltdown. We did have a babysitter put him to bed for the first time last month & it apparently went smoothly & he enjoyed the novel aspect of it, but it's not an option for every night. My 4yo gets upset bc she wants me to put her to bed sometimes but then DS just gets into such a state that we always rush it so that I can go to him & DH can go to DD.

Then it's always at least an hour of trying to get DS to sleep. I sit next to his bed, stoke him a little, sing, etc. Try to stay quiet & calm, but he tosses around, gets out of bed, says he has to wee, then doesn't. I often get frustrated & end up snapping or shouting at him.

Every night is like this, even when I try moving bedtime earlier (then, instead of taking an hour it takes 1 1/2 hrs). By the time he finally falls asleep, I am worn out & feel like shit.

Then in the middle of every night (the exact time varies, could be 11:30, could be 4am), he comes to my room to sleep with me. I've tried getting him to go to the toilet & then resettle in his own bed, but that usually takes an hour & then he comes back to me within half an hour anyway, so I've given up, choosing to spend that hour in my own bed, albeit with a tossing, turning, kicking toddler.

Many nights, DS wakes having wet his bed, but usually he hasn't & just wants to come into my bed.

It's so disruptive that DH (himself a bad sleeper) now sleeps in the guest room. Which makes sense as he really needs to be fit for work as he's our only income, but it does leave me feeling very much alone to deal with DS.

The other evening, DS wet his bed while I was trying to get him to sleep and just sitting quietly beside him. It definitely seemed like an attempt to get attention, but this child is so very not neglected. He gets loads of attention from both me & DH, alone & with DD. He and DD generally get on well too.

I feel so defeated and like I'm really grasping at the last threads of my sanity.

MaudeTheMopLady Tue 20-Oct-15 22:21:05

Oh poor poor you. It sounds absolutely terrible. I've been in a similar situation to you and was horribly depressed. DH and I had to sleep apart and I didn't sleep through the night for three years either, but my son is 4.5 now and he actually sleeps all night long!

I would really recommend getting a sleep consultant in or someone you trust that can 'break' the pattern. I did both and it was very very helpful. You need someone entirely unsentimental who will help you sort this out. You need to sleep. He needs to sleep. You CAN sort this. You can make it happen. I waited too long to address it and ended up falling ill (meningitis) as I was in such a place of exhaustion and so run down; if I could go back in time I would have sought help sooner.

Your health visitor may be able to recommend a sleep specialist, alternatively there are some good private sleep consultants who can advise you/ come and help you implement a new strategy. I wish you the very best of luck.
Remember it won't last forever ... Although it seems that way at the time.

futureme Tue 20-Oct-15 22:40:05

I had 3.5 years (turned out to be sleep apnea that was making her wake constantly) but now she still wakes once and comes into our bed.

I keep worrying I've lost the plot/ don't seem as on top of things as other people but sleep deprivation really truly does strange things sad

Prettyinblue Tue 20-Oct-15 23:00:29

Not fair on any of you. You need to be really firm. Here is what I have done with all my kids. The day before you decide to start give him a very clear explanation of what will happen: explaining that from now at bedtime you can you brush teeth, have a story,give me a cuddle and a kiss then go to sleep By yourself. Make it into a really exciting big boy thing to do .explain how proud of them will be, have him get a sticker chart ready to make, have conversations to people all over the place about how proud and exciting it is because he's good now a big boy going to go to sleep by himself. On the first night he will be an absolute fucking pain in the arse.

Give him a cuddle and a kiss and say bedtime now. He will get up screaming. Return to bed saying bedtime. Repeat twice. Next time he gets up don't even look at him or say anything just lead him back to bed.repeat this proximately 94 times.

He will eventually give up.

In the middle of the night he will wake up and demand attention n. Just say again back to bed. He will come out again approximally 50 times, Don't look at him don't turn alight just take him back to bed. Repeat about tenbtimes in the night. Don't lose your cool.

In the morning don't say anything about him being a complete pain in the arse. A bit later in the day make out that he's going to be so amazing. Repeat exactly the same as last night but hopefully this 94 times will be around 84 times.The same in the middle of the night. Day three will be probably about 24 times day four about 20 times until one amazing day he will just go to sleep.
If you lose your cool. Give up let him sleep in your bed. Give him milk, An extra cuddle and a kiss and extra story or whatever you may as well have not bothered and can expect start the whole thing over again.

I can't survive without sleep. Turned me into a terrible person and a shit parent, I've done this with all four kids works within a week. Some of them a couple of days. Sometimes need to be repeated if they have ever been ill or have regressed.

Someone will come along and tell you about gentle sleep solutions. They may work. Never works for me.

My method Turned me from being depressed, shouty, Bitter parent into a cuddly loving one. Best thing Thing I ever did.

GoodtoBetter Tue 20-Oct-15 23:18:00

I agree with Pretty. But you HAVE to stick to it until it works, NO MATTER how awful it is at first.

stqueen Tue 20-Oct-15 23:31:47

Totally agree with Pretty - each and every night the whole up/down/crying/acting up cycle will reduce in number. Totally right on the giving in thing too - if you do, expect to start the whole thing over again - consistency is key. Short term pain for long term gain. I say this as a new(ish) mum who had to break the cycle of DD thinking DH & I were human beds! Over the course of 3/4 days we went from around 100 re-settles to just a couple grin

Good luck OP!

Millipedewithherfeetup Tue 20-Oct-15 23:51:47

Do you think reverse phycology would work i.e don't even mention bed, dont try and take him up, just let him stay up with you until you go to bed ?say well im tired now and need to sleep, what are you going to do ? It might shock him into actually wanting his nice routine back ?

overthemill Wed 21-Oct-15 00:06:58

Poor you. To add to the excellent advice -sleep consultant and/or strict routine - we put a stair gate across the doorway so DS couldn't get out. We also when he was taller put a little hook and eye thing on the outside so he couldn't get out. It was needed! It takes a while but they learn. He has to sleep and so do you . Good luck

SushiAndTheBanshees Wed 21-Oct-15 00:14:57

Exactly what pretty said. Worked for us each time. Emphasis on having to follow through. Very unfair on them if you give up part way through.

FeelsLikeHome123 Wed 21-Oct-15 00:18:28

I did similar to Pretty but used the 'I'll leave your bedroom door open if you stay in your bed, if you get out of bed I will close the door'. Worked first night after 6 goes. Morning after..Lots of praise, Mummy is really happy you stayed in your own bed and didn't wake me last night, stickers, cuddles and kisses.
I would put a potty in his room or put a pair of training pants on at night until he has more bladder control.

Sunbeam18 Mon 26-Oct-15 21:22:49

Pretty, can I ask your advice? My son is 2.4 and we still have bars on the cotbed so he can't get out. How did you handle early waking? He's waking between 5 and 5.30 every morning and it's totally killing me.

eversomuch Tue 03-Nov-15 14:33:59

Thank you, everyone. Only just saw all these replies as I wasn't getting notifications on my phone.

After my initial post, I lost patience being nice, LOL, and ended up doing pretty much what Pretty recommends. Said good-night and sat outside is room onthe stairs, promising to check in on him. He was up many times and cried a lot when he realised I really wasn't going to stay in his room all night, but by the third night it was so much easier.

DS is still waking in the night but was returning to his own bed until he fell ill with a fever and bad cold the last few nights and ended up in bed with me again, so we may have to start the nighttime process all over again. Last night I told him that it was the last night he could come into bed with me and that he'd have to stay in his own bed again starting tonight, so we'll see how it goes.

But at least I now have a bit of hope that things will get better -- for like the first time in years.

WorkingBling Tue 03-Nov-15 14:44:59

Well done. I would definitely also go back to a night nappy. He's quite young to be completely dry at night so I wouldn't worry about that. DS had a brief period of wee ing in th ebed on purpose to get attention....

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