5 year old. Night waking for 2 hours every night.

(15 Posts)
peanutfoldover Fri 03-Jan-20 08:00:08

Hiya, my 5 year old was an amazing sleeper from 9 months to 3 years old. Things then started to go awry and have persisted. Here are the issues:

1) Nightly battle going to bed. She gets hyperactive around 6 o clock although I can tell she is tired really. We do all in our power to start calming her down, no screens (she actually doesn’t like telly and has no interest in iPads etc so this isn’t hard), lights low, do a calming activity like colouring etc. Avoid sugar completely after school/midday. We start the bedtime routine at around 7pm although she doesn’t always have a bath. She always has a story and cuddles. However, she messes around, jumps about, constantly interrupts the story, insists on reading it herself but is too tired and gets frustrated. All the usual questions/excuses for staying awake a bit longer: hungry/thirsty/loo. It has all become a bit fraught if I’m honest. We sometimes lose our temper because it’s just so exhausting. Trying to leave her to fall asleep alone evokes screaming and a general tantrum. (She tells us she is scared of nightmares). She has a nightlight. We tried for a long time to potter around upstairs while she falls asleep but this method can take her up to 2 hours (with lots of crying). So we’ve resorted to lying or sitting with her while she falls asleep. This takes her an hour. My husband and I take it it turns because neither of us can face doing it every night.

2) She goes through phases, usually a week long, of waking in the night. Then another week of sleeping through (presumably because she is exhausted). This week, for example, she has woken in the early hours every night and come into my bed (DH and I sleep separately) and then stays awake for 2 hours. She is thirsty, too hot, too cold, has had a bad dream etc etc etc. I’m just so fed up with it.

I feel like her sleeping needs a complete overhaul but I don’t know where to start or what to tackle first. The night waking? The bedtime routine? All the sleep training advice out there seems to be geared towards babies and toddlers. Our DD’s issue started when she was 3 and now she’s 5!

I feel the pressure is on to Improve the situation obviously mainly for her benefit but because we have baby no.2 due in July this year. How on earth will I sleep at all with a newborn and our 5 year old as she is?! So that’s 6 months to get something in place. I’d rather do it now before she knows I’m pregnant and not link it to the baby at all.

Is it even possible to improve things at her age.

She’s in very good health. Super smart (her primary school teacher described her as ‘advanced’ at our parents evening). And she certainly is ahead from a numbers/reading/writing point of view. But I think she’s quite immature emotionally. Very clingy and seemingly allergic to sleep.

I’ve considered asking the GP about melatonin..... any experience with this??

Many thanks!

OP’s posts: |
peanutfoldover Fri 03-Jan-20 08:02:52

Thought I should say we were putting her to bed at 6, knowing it takes her a couple of hours to actually fall asleep. But it was suggested by colleagues we start an hour later. But as a result she’s often not asleep till 8.30/9pm. So not sure that’s the answer. Now we start at 6.30 just because it’s halfway and we’re basically at a loss.

OP’s posts: |
TipseyTorvey Fri 03-Jan-20 08:06:36

Hello. Sounds exhausting. Ours was the same but then was diagnosed with aspegers and we were prescribed melatonin and bedtimes completely calmed down. We are still very strict about lavender bath, story, warm milk, low light etc but bedtimes are now 20 mins down from an hour. He still night wakes occasionally from 3am to 4am so we're still knackered but at least our evenings are fine now I have no idea if a GP would prescribe it with no diagnosis through. We get all our melatonin from the US now via travelling friends, as the prescription was private so very expensive. Our doc said that was fine.

peanutfoldover Fri 03-Jan-20 09:18:57

It is exhausting! Sounds like you’ve been there and got the T-shirt! There is so much anxiety around bedtime in general now (in us as well as her) that we’re probably making it worse unintentionally.

I’d be totally up for following a ‘system’ or a sleep training programme. I just can’t find one for her age, so any recommendations would be great.

I have asked the Health visitor and the Senco at her pre-school if she has any signs of being on the autistic spectrum but they both firmly said there was nothing. Which is great, obviously, but I’ve spent a long time searching for a reason and sometimes you just want a clear cut diagnosis to make sense of it all.

We went through a long spell of her behaviour being absolutely terrible last year (which partly instigated me inquiring about autism/Aspergers), but since she started school she has completely turned around and is now an absolute pleasure during the day. And I can’t really say she’s ‘naughty’ at night really either, she’s very excitable and a bit scared of being left alone.

OP’s posts: |
peanutfoldover Fri 03-Jan-20 15:01:40

Just re looking at the books out there. They are all geared towards baby’s and toddlers. Does anyone know of a book more suited to a 5 year old? Or would the principles be the same regardless of age?

OP’s posts: |
BernardsarenotalwaysSaints Fri 03-Jan-20 15:11:03

I would go the gp for advice

My eldest did similar just after she turned 4. We tried all sorts of things at home but eventually went to the gp. From then on I kept a sleep diary & we couldn’t spot a particular pattern or reason behind the change. After around 5 weeks when we’d both been existing on around an hour a night we were prescribed phenegran(sp?). It’s actually an antihistamine but isn’t commonly used these days as drowsiness is one of the side effects. We used it in exactly the same was as an adult would use, say zopiclone, start on a ‘high’ dose for 2 nights, then reduced each night, toward the end of the 10 days we were told to give it we skipped one then 2 days. The idea (again as with an adult on prescription sleeping meds) is to reset the sleep pattern. It worked but we never did find out why she’d stopped.

TipseyTorvey Fri 03-Jan-20 15:13:11

Now I'm no expert, except on my own child but the dozens of books I've now read a say that girls present aspegers very differently to boys as they are socialised to fit in more. So they present as very well behaved at school then lose it at home through the effort of 'making' all day.

Having never met your dd or having more than a narrow range of info I can't possibly say but might it be she's very mild aspie or maybe a bit anxious? I'm not usually one for drugging children willy nilly but it might be worth trying melatonin for 2 or 3 nights to see how she goes. I suspect your gp might say no to prescribing though, mine said it had to be a psychiatric prescription.

Sorry no use on general sleep books for older kids though, there are 4 million for babies aren't there? Very frustrating!!!

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Lillybobtail Fri 03-Jan-20 15:18:55

If she is tired already at 6, could you bring bedtime forward to say 5 for a few days, and see if that helps? I know with my 4 year old we need to start bedtime before she is sleepy or there's no chance, and sometimes that can be really early.

peanutfoldover Fri 03-Jan-20 15:59:42

My gut tells me to start early because she is so mentally ‘active’ it takes her ages to calm down. But after just switching her bedtime to later it feels like we’re chopping and changing everything all the time out of desperation. My husband will say “so we’re back to early bedtimes now?!”

I wouldnt be surprised if she is eventually diagnosed with mild aspergers. One thing everyone says about her is “wow, she’s an intense kid!!” which is really true. She is completely full on, never rests mentally. She is like this with everyone, which is why we have very few offers of baby sitters! She’s just tiring to be around. Not socially awkward or odd (Infact she is quite charming in her own little way) but intense. Does that make sense?! She is borderline obsessed with reading and writing and very good at it and lots of her time is spent doing this.

She has never been the type of child to ‘go with the flow’ or relax. From the moment she wakes up she is doing everything with 100% enthusiasm and this continues till bedtime. The total opposite to me and her dad who are virtually sloth like!!

I’d really like to have a book or a system to follow. Just for some structure to try for a few months. And then I see the GP or HV.

OP’s posts: |
Elieza Fri 03-Jan-20 16:38:53

Defo enquire what meds are available. Even for short term use to get a sleeping pattern sorted. It’s hard when her body is in the pattern of night waking to break that pattern.

Can you knacker her out with lots of physical exercise?

Can you adapt the adult insomnia advice to help your child? She could go to bed at midnight with you both. Co sleeping if required. Alarm at 7am. All get up. No naps no matter how tired she is. Same the next three days. By then she’ll be tired earlier and crabbit. Bedtime slightly earlier at 11pm and gradually bring it back by half an hour a night to 10.30pm, then 10pm etc (while alarm on at 7am daily and she has to get up, no naps) until she’s in bed at a reasonable time for her needs?

Sorry if that’s not helpful. I know my neighbours are trying this (or something similar, I’ve not spoken with them) with their ‘thundering elephant’ who is still galloping on their hard wood floors at after 11pm so I’m hoping it works! I’ll let you know if it does what their secret method was!

peanutfoldover Fri 03-Jan-20 16:45:40

Thank you. Yes that’s a technique I’ve not thought of. Will discuss it with husband.

OP’s posts: |
TipseyTorvey Fri 03-Jan-20 17:11:18

Hi @peanutfoldover, have just looked at one of my books. I tried to message you some screenshots of the 'sleep' pages but it won't let me add images. I don't want to post them on here as I think its against copyright laws as its a public forum but basically it's saying that its one of the key traits of autism and melatonin just isn't produced in the right quantities and at the right times. It suggests tips can be found here www.autism.org.uk/about/health/sleep.aspx. Again I'm not saying she IS autistic, just that it might be trait and it might be a lack of melatonin.

Spindle55 Sat 05-Sep-20 08:52:15

Just wondered if the OP could provide any update on this at all? Going through similar with my child just now.

ChunkyButFunky87 Mon 14-Sep-20 20:42:47

Just come across your post OP and it's basically my daughter upstairs now an hour and a half later! Husbands night tonight, getting longer and harder to settle her down. I'm just so tired of it, before I know it I'm in bed myself knackered and there's just no night for us

Spindle55 Mon 21-Sep-20 17:00:49

How old is your LO Chunky? Mine goes to sleep quickly enough but has started getting up repeatedly during the night all of a sudden....it's exhausting and we are all drained.
At least we do get a bit of an evening, but then have to get to bed early cause up so much!

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