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SIX year old...I can take no more

(36 Posts)
dogdaysareover Wed 25-Oct-17 22:02:01

DS is 6. He has always been an absolutely appalling sleeper. Co-slept for first 4 years because it was that or probably run my car off the road due to sleep deprivation. At 6 he is in his own bed, but he will not sleep without me in the room with him. Bedtime starts at 7pm with shower, wind down, a bit of Horrible Histories, reading etc. I put his sister to bed and then we listen to an audio book for a while. Then he thrashes about until 10pm, when, finally, exhausted, he usually falls alseep (although this performance has been known to go on until 11 or later). He is exhausted at school, snappy, irritable, sullen. I am also because I have realised for SIX years of my life I have not had an evening. I have not watched a film, a tv program, had a conversation past 8pm. It is affecting my marriage. I am so frustrated with the situation. Has anyone any advice? I am at the end of my six year tether.

Sensimilla Wed 25-Oct-17 22:06:35

I'm still co-sleeping with my 6 year old, for this and various reasons, so not the best person to give advice, but things which help my dd;

Lots and lots of exercise
Eating well
Vitamins
Oil diffuser with lavender
A rain/storm CD
Reading books

Overreaction1 Wed 25-Oct-17 22:08:46

No advice but that sounds really really tough.
Could you speak to your gp about this to see if there is a professional who could advise?

orenisthenewblack Wed 25-Oct-17 22:10:31

Wow. No advice as I’ve never had this problem. Just posting to offer you theseflowers. You’re a saint.

I was lucky in that both mine were in bed every night for 7pm. Don’t know if that was sheer luck or what.

More recently with a foster child, bedtime routine started about six pm with supper, milk, washing, teeth and two stories. Kiss, cuddle, good night, tuck in followed by lights out.

Shower would wake me up rather than get me ready for bed. Horrible Histories would give me nightmares.

Hope other posters have better advice for you cos it can’t go on can it x

TriGirl007 Wed 25-Oct-17 22:12:11

Sympathies it’s shit but some kids are just wired differently and you need to do whatever to survive. I begged our GP for something to help my first DD to sleep just for a couple of nights for 6-8hrs solid as I was on my knees after 5yrs of very poor broken sleep. She is now still a mega active fab intelligent 10yr old very sporty non-stop child but does manage her own sleep now. My second DD we put her down and she’s asleep in 5mins only takes half hr pre-bed wind down!! Very different children.
I’d start bedtime wind down 2-3 hours before so 5pm to aim for 7-8pm bath PJs all the usual reading. My DH & I tag teamed to be on night “duty” so one of us always got a solid 6hrs with ear plugs. We had to be very consistent and set firm boundaries and School finally started to wear her out mentally (we could physically with lots of sport) and she started to sleep through the night. Check nothing medical going on? My nephew has ASD and needs melatonin occasionally to “reset” his terrible sleep pattern. Gd luck.

TriGirl007 Wed 25-Oct-17 22:19:24

My sister made a bed on the floor next to their bed - it wasn’t as comfy as my nephews proper bed which he started off in every night but she used it as a comprise to “co-sleepin” when she got no sleep as he’s such a fidget. We tried to avoid co-sleeping but ended up sleeping on my DDs bedroom floor most flipping nights for two looomg years which is ridiculous now I look back but at the time you think it will be 1-2nights but she just never slept and sleep derivation turns you mad!

Believeitornot Thu 26-Oct-17 06:27:30

Horrible histories before bed? My dcs watch that but never before bed. I’d have nothing vaguely exciting before bed.

Also does he snore? He might have trouble with sleep apnea so I’d rule that out. Also take the temperature down in his room if it’s too warm.

Believeitornot Thu 26-Oct-17 06:35:26

Horrible histories before bed? My dcs watch that but never before bed. I’d have nothing vaguely exciting before bed.

Also does he snore? He might have trouble with sleep apnea so I’d rule that out. Also take the temperature down in his room if it’s too warm.

Topnotes Thu 26-Oct-17 06:38:57

Do you read him a bedtime story when he is in bed? That is a really good wind down. When he looks sleepy, kiss goodnight and all lights off.

Wallywobbles Thu 26-Oct-17 06:41:32

I think you probably need lights out by 7. One story is ample. Bore him as much as possible.

Gym mat type mattress on the floor in your room. IKEA does ones that are just about passible with a sleeping bag. Nothing very nice though. And absolutely forbidden to wake you up.

Time to stop being so nice about it. Let him know and really understand that it pisses you off.

Notanumberuser Thu 26-Oct-17 06:41:41

Showers wake people up. Bath better. Or skip it. He doesn’t need one every night.

Is he running about after tea to burn off energy?

No homework reading or horrible histories - just have calm boring stuff.

And. He’s 6. Not 6months. Just tell him things are changing and you will be doing things in a different way from now on.

redexpat Thu 26-Oct-17 06:43:00

I would try and borrow a weighted duvet to see if that helps. They are usually used for people with conditions like autism and adhd etc.

ChilliMum Thu 26-Oct-17 06:45:40

flowers for you and wine and gin

I was you a few years ago, my dd is a terrible sleeper. I have no solutions for you we just muddled through.

However, things are so much better now. She is still a terrible sleeper. I agree with the pp who says some children are just wired differently (ds is the opposite).

What has changed is that she is older. I have stopped trying to fight it and given her a little autonomy. If she is struggling to go to sleep she is allowed to put the light on and read. She has usually put her own light out and gone to sleep when I come to bed but she is often already sat reading in bed when dh gets up for work at 6.

Because we have taken the stress and expectation out of sleep I do think she sleeps better. I suppose she has found her own rhythm and while I would prefer she had more sleep and if I am honest I worry about the long term effects she does manage perfectly well and does above average at school.

She is 11 now but we started this around the time she started to read (around 7 / 8) so it might be something to consider with your ds over the next year.

AliPfefferman Thu 26-Oct-17 06:52:23

Melatonin. Seriously. It’s not a tranquilizer or sedative, it just helps produce more of the sleep hormone that your body produces naturally in the evening. It’s available as a dietary supplement (not even a medication) in America, Canada, and other places, so I just stock up when I’m traveling. For some odd reason you need a prescription in the UK, but I think they do prescribe it for children. I would bet if you use it for a few weeks or so, you could break the habit of needing you in the room, etc., and you wouldn’t need to use melatonin forever. I take it every night myself. My DCs are not bad sleepers so I don’t use it for them often but when they are jet-lagged or just having a hard time sleeping I give them a small dose (1 mg I think). It comes in flavored melts so they take it happily, and they’re usually out within 30 minutes. It could be the placebo effect as I do tell them I’m giving them medicine to help them sleep, but as long as it works I don’t care.

Obviously I wouldn’t expect you to start giving your child a drug/supplement without doing your own research and/or talking to your doctor, but my experience with melatonin has been great and I think it’s something you might want to look into. It can’t be healthy for your child to get little or broken sleep, not to mention your mental health and marriage should also be priorities.

Good luck flowers

RavingRoo Thu 26-Oct-17 06:59:07

More exercise. More carbs at dinner. And a bit of tough love - it’s not fair that he gets to have you every night to himself at the expense of his sibling. As they get older this will become a stickingn point so best to nip it in the bud now even if it results in a few nights of tantrumns.

differentnameforthis Thu 26-Oct-17 07:01:16

Showers & baths wake my dc up. We stopped doing them before bed years ago.

NOTHING worked.

We had this for 8 yrs until she was diagnosed with autism. Her paed suggested low dose melatonin, and I have my evenings back! It doesn't keep her asleep (it's not meant to) but it gets her to sleep and thus has saved my sanity.

ocelot41 Thu 26-Oct-17 07:03:57

I second weighted blanket - although I have friends for whom nothing but melatonin works!

differentnameforthis Thu 26-Oct-17 07:09:04

Be careful with weighted blankets. They have to be a % of the users body weight, and they are not recommended for night long sleep. You should remove it before you go to bed.

endofthelinefinally Thu 26-Oct-17 07:09:52

No shower at night.
No stimulating stories or screens in the hour before bed.
Make a bed on the floor of your room.
Relaxation CDs like the sort they have in spas.
Quiet classical/calming music in the back ground while having dinner/getting ready for bed.
I learned how to do foot massage using lavender oil.

These are the things that worked for us.

pleasingone Thu 26-Oct-17 07:23:59

He is 6 so understands, unless he has an undiagnosed problem then this is a behaviour issue. Have you told him it is bothering you and as he is getting older he should think about his behaviour? Have you asked him why he won’t be alone? You say you’ve not had an evening for 6 years, could your husband take over to help make things less interesting & give you a break?
You should make the evenings as boring as possible. Have you considered reward charts? My DD2 didn’t sleep until until she was 2, this was torture so well done for 6 years.

Ploppie4 Thu 26-Oct-17 07:27:49

He needs to wear himself out during the day. Lots of sport walking and then a bath warm milk nicer stories

NowtAbout Thu 26-Oct-17 07:44:48

Apart from being tired and snappy does he have any other behaviour problems.

If not need to start getting strict. All four of mine have done absolutely everything they can to avoid going to bed / going to sleep. I have various health conditions and if I don't sleep I get really ill therefore I've always been really strict about bedtime. Of course I try and push it but you just have to be consistently boring and repeatedly put them in bed.

I would make a big fuss about how he's going to be such a big boy now and is going to start going to sleep by himself. Tell everybody you're going to do this and make it sound like he is so cool for doing it. Get him excited about the idea and set up a start-up so that if he manages 7 days of it he gets some nominal treat. During the day away from the house set the ground rules with him.(ie short bedtime routine, read himself in bed, lights out 8pm. No leaving the room after this, no getting out of bed and no noise.)
On the first night when he inevitably keeps getting up just calmly tell him first time that it's bedtime and time to sleep and put him back in bed second time that it's bedtime and the third time and next 200 times say nothing just put him back in bed.

Do similar if he is shouting.

Then repeat this very boring routine for probably the next week. Repeat it in the middle of the night if necessary.

Make a massive fuss of him the next day again telling everybody.

Try and make out like it is a really good thing and that it is not a punishment but a reward for being such a grlwn up boy.

I know it's really hard my eldest has Aspergers and thus doesn't sleep well. But he learnt from a very young age to just lie in bed and read/ look at books.

Other things that made a difference were no screens after 6 p.m., and no more than an hour a day, loads of exercise, no stimulating food after 5 p.m. (sugar/ juice/squash etc).

This has worked with all four of them at various ages you just need to be consistent and strong. If for example on the 3rd night you give in a bit they will not forget that and persevere until you do so again.

It's very worth it to get your life back and also it's necessary for them to get enough sleep. I have friends with children that co sleep that are just all exhausted and they all snap at each other because of it. It's really not fair on the kids or the parents.

londonista Thu 26-Oct-17 07:51:33

God I really feel for you OP.

The only thing I can suggest is lots of exercise for him and maybe start your evening routine earlier so he’s in bed an hour before normal. Sounds like the winding down process is drawn out - i find people in your position often have a set of rituals they go through to get the child asleep (I understand why of course!) and in the end the child becomes dependent on them (eg mummy needs to say goodnight to all 30 of my teddies, mummy does the silly song, mummy gives me a back rub etc btw I’ve had all of these from my 6 year old!!). So maybe if it’s all done a bit earlier you can get him to sleep earlier.

Then I would start trying to drop things from the routine. Eg I’m not going to say goodnight to all 30 of your teddies so just pick 5 tonight etc.

Good luck ....!

Cinnamon12345 Thu 26-Oct-17 07:52:51

Lack of sleep is why I only have one child.

londonista Thu 26-Oct-17 07:53:46

Cinnamon - if my first son had been a patch on my second son AKA the Sleep Thief, he would have been an only child yes.

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