3 year old still does NOT sleep through the night

Stephanie - posted on 05/19/2009 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I am at my wits end and don’t know what to do. My three year old daughter still does not sleep through the night or at least not consistently. She will sleep through the night maybe one night in a week or two week time span. All the other nights she wakes up once, twice maybe three times or more during the night. In the morning I am so tired, with a low level of patience and high level of frustration and cranky. I feel awful that I am that way. She has never been a good sleeper.



Some background information, during her first year I always rocked her to sleep never realizing that she needed to learn to fall asleep on her own. I was not a fan of Crying It Out so I slowly had her learn to fall asleep on her own. She now falls asleep on her own for both bedtime and naptime and has been doing so about a year and a half. I just don’t understand why she needs so much reassurance during the night. And how do I solve this problem, so I can get some sleep? During the middle of the night, she calls me into her room for stuff like her hair is in her face or her blanket needs to be fixed or to tell me something or for some other reason that I really don’t know why. She is still in her crib and has no interest in changing to a bed. She insists on the door being open and must have the lights on. She has a nightlight that is on and we have recessed lighting in her bedroom on a dimmer so they are on but dimmed down low. Sometimes she calls me in because when she looks out her bedroom door it is dark in the rest of the house. I explain to her that it is night time and that is why it is dark in the house. She will start crying and screaming. I tell her that she needs to be quiet because her baby brother and Daddy are sleeping but she won’t stop. I have to threaten to close the door but she still won’t stop, so then I close her door for a minute and open it up and she will finally stop screaming and lie back down. By the time this battle is over and I get back to bed, I can’t sleep. Or if we don’t have a battle then after calling me into her room two or three times then I am up and can’t go back to sleep.



I have no idea what to do and I really need to do something to help this situation. I am just so tired and worn out. I would have thought she would have outgrown this by now. Does anyone have any advice, suggestions or anything to help me figure out what I can do so she will sleep better???



Sorry for the long post. Thanks in advance.

Stephanie

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Stephanie - posted on 05/21/2009

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HA, you're funny!! "cup full of coke in front of a television with the wiggles on repeat!" Yes, that situation would have been much easier to figure out. But no such luck.



I have tried talking about how she is a big girl and can do these things by herself but she just tells me that "I'm not a big girl, I'm not wearing my panties" Ugh! Why do things we tell them always find a way to turn around and bite us in the butt?? For potty training we have been telling her she is a big girl and big girls wear panties and stuff like that. I have tried talking to her about mommy needs sleep so she is not cranky in the morning. She has seen me extremely tired during the day and she will ask me what's wrong and I tell her that I am tired and she needs to sleep better and she just tells me that I can take a nap after dinner. Oh thanks! When she does a good job sleeping or sleeps through the night I try to make a big deal about it the next morning but that doesn't seem to do anything either. I have often asked her the next day, why she doesn't sleep well or what can I do to help her sleep better and she never has an answer.



I am not exactly sure if the times she wakes up is the same every night. I need to jot that down to see if there is a pattern. I know some popular times are around 1 or 3 or 5. Not sure about the sleep cycle thing so you could have something there.



I have thought about the walkie-talkie thing but just wasn't sure if that would solve it or encourage it. How fun would it be to be able to talk to mommy on a microphone like thing anytime time she wanted to?? That is the kind of thing I am thinking she might think. You know kids. Everything is a game to them.



Husband is no help. Next,..........



I have thought about leaving the light in the room next to her. It is a loft area which is at the top of the stairs and leads to my sons room, her room, my room and the game room. I sleep with my room door shut and my son also has his room door shut so I don't think it would affect anyone else. I just wonder if I leave the light on there, then will that cause her to see down the stairs and notice that the living room and entry way is dark. Give her an inch and she will take a mile. Really I am not trying to be difficult but I just have to think of all the possibilites that could happen. With toddlers, they seriously will do the opposite of what you want!



Thanks for the suggestions. I am going to think on the walkie-talkie one and the additional light on in another room. I might just give the light one a try first.



And don't worry, your e-mails are not at all disconnected. They are very easy to understand and follow.



Thanks so much for your help. It is just nice to be able to talk to someone about this and have someone to bounce ideas off of.



Have a great weekend.

Stephanie

Lindsey - posted on 05/19/2009

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I was hoping that you would have said that she sleeps with a cup full of coke in front of a television with the wiggles on repeat! It would have been easier to figure out.

Kids are so weird sometimes! My son just woke up a few minutes ago and wanted me to come and get his stuffed tiger off the floor and put it back to sleep at the foot of his bed. *shakes head* Can you gently tell her that when she needs the blankets pulled up, or something easy like that that she needs to do it herself and not wake momma up?

Does she wake at the same times every night? It might be just her coming out of a sleep cycle and then not being able to go back to sleep.

What about getting some sort of communication device? Like a walkie-talkie? She could have one in her room and you could keep one next to you in bed. She might just have a feeling of insecurity and needs to know that you will be there whenever she needs you. If she is feeling insecure, you can talk to her but not having to get out of bed doesn't disturb your sleep as much.

Does your husband get up with her? Maybe you could alternate nights? My husband and I do this when our 3 y/o goes through a sleepless phase and it really saves our sanity. If either one of us gets up all the time, we're crabby and it just makes things worse.

after reading your first post - sorry, again...this is so disconnected. I noticed that your daughter is upset about it being dark in the rest of the house. My son is the same way. He has a nightlight in his room and was fine until about a month ago when he woke up crying from nightmares all the time - we started leaving the hall light on (and shutting our doors so it was dark in our room) and he went back to sleeping normally. Would this be an option you could try?

Please let me know how this goes. I feel for you, girl. :)

Lindsey - posted on 05/19/2009

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Have you asked her why she wakes up in the night? Is it due to scary dreams? Something in her room making her uncomfortable? Sounds at a neighbor's house or a tree branch scratching her window.



How is her bedtime routine? Is she getting to bed at an early enough hour? We start bedtime for our 3 y/o at 7:15 and he is usually asleep by 8 after bath, multiple stories and many good-night kisses and hugs from his parents and brother. I've noticed when we put our son to bed late that he wakes up more frequently. I hear him wake up during the night even if he doesn't need us.



I'm sorry if this is disconnected - I'm just typing as I think.



Does she fall asleep in her bed, lights off or does she fall asleep to the television? Television at bedtime, while it can put one to sleep it can affect the quality of their sleep.



When is meal time in relation to bedtime? If kids eat too close to bedtime, digestion can interfere with sleep patterns.



I'm sorry that your daughter is having such a hard time. I know how hard it can be and how helpless we can feel when we just cannot figure out what is wrong. I hope some of these suggestions help.



She may have a very real reason as to why she is waking up and needing reassurance. My 3 y/o son has always been a good sleeper but has periods when he wakes up frequently during the night. He tells me he has scary dreams.

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Joy - posted on 08/13/2012

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Stephanie, my three year old is exactly as you descibe, and I have no solution. I do think its linked to arrachment of some kind. I'm going to try creating joint family rules with rewards andvsanctions that she can help organise. In the day my child doesn't nap and. Is exceptionally stimulated in preschool and with time out the house

Stephanie - posted on 05/19/2009

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Thanks for your response. Yes, CIO is not an option. I agree she is too old.



I have asked why she wakes up and she either gives me a reason like her blanket needed to be fixed or whatever. I also have tried talking about it during the day with her but she either doesn't answer me or gives me a strange look like she doesn't know what I am talking about or gives me some strange answer that doesn't make sense. I know there are times she wakes up because of dreams but normally that isn't the issue. She loves her room and she has stuffed animals and whatever she wants in her bed to make her more comfortable. No trees next to her window. There was one next to the bathroom window next to her room but we got rid of that a year ago. Her bedtime routine is 7:30 bath, brush teeth, jammies, sippy cup of milk, say night-night to Daddy, read three books with Mommy and in bed she goes. It is usually around 8:30 she is in her crib and falls asleep around 9. She still takes a nap during the day from 12-3 and I think that is what attributes to her taking a while to fall asleep at night. No television at night. She falls asleep with her nightlight on, dim lights in her room and the door open. We eat dinner between 6 to 6:30.



I do feel totally helpless and really wish I could figure it out both for her sake and mine. Well if you think of anything else let me know. I am hoping someone will stumble across something that might help me out. Those were great questions but I am not sure I see any issues. Do you? I know with me being so close to the problem or possible part of the problem I might not see something that is wrong or could be the cause. So it is nice to be able to chat with others and see what they think.

Lindsey - posted on 05/19/2009

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Also, an easy way out would be to just tell you to let her CIO....however, I have no idea what her personality is like and that suggestion could be harmful to her emotional development....especially at this stage when she *can* remember.

Good luck to you :)

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