How do I get a very over tired 3 yr old to sleep. Has 45 min durning the day and wakes up crying and grumpy and then is up early every morning . Can't seem to break cycle she is sooo tired!!!


Bobbie - posted on 10/23/2012




There can be two different things at work here. The first thing that came to mind was sleep apnea. When we fall to sleep the soft tissues in our mouth can relax and block the air passage. If this is occurring her body will send her a signal to wake to get the air she needs. This interruption causes a toddler to wake up over and over again and never reach that deep sleep.

Signs of this being the issue would be snoring, catching her breath and coughing while asleep, and yawning during the day with constant sleepiness. Your doctor can determine if she has enlarged adenoids or other issues they can address to help.

The other thing that came to mind is she may have separation anxiety. That when she stirs and finds herself in the room she is unable to self sooth and relax and drift back off to sleep.

Some actions are learned behaviors. If she has found that to wake up and immediately cry gets you to come in and get her then she is going to continue to do what works. I would think that 45 minutes in no where near enough time to get good solid rest time. If you were to not go to her or in anyway allow her to see you while she fusses and cries after 45 minutes. She will wear herself out and fall back to sleep. This can take a while at first but if you know in your heart that you are helping her to get the rest she so badly needs, for her mind and body to grow you can more easily wait her out. When she wakes again still wait for her to settle down and play or be talking and relaxing in her bed before you go get her . This will train her that you come in when she is calm rather than when she is crying.

In the evening after 7:00 if there is not excited play with daddy or getting her to laugh and wind her up, she should be getting very tired by 7:30. Allow a full 30 minutes for her to fuss and cry and settle in she will fall to sleep sooner and sooner each night. As long as no one peeks in on her that is. Each time you peek in or pick her up when she is crying you set her bar higher of how long she is willing to cry and wait you out to get you to come to her.

I have a 3 year old grandson. He is a superstar with nap time and bedtime now. His mother allowed him to sleep with her from time to time which was very confusing for him. When my son came along when he was 2 he put a stop to the waking all thru the night and crying for his mommy. My son did go to him in the middle of night when he woke up only to speak to him and tell him mommy was sleeping and he had to go back to sleep. Now our little man grabs his sippy cup of water, goes potty and then waves nite nite when you tell him it is nap time. He sleeps from 12:30 until 2:00 and usually has to be waken up if he sleeps past 2:30. He goes down at night at 7:30 with 5 books read and sitting in his mothers lap for the first 3 then last 2 books are read after he gets into bed. That routine makes it enjoyable for his mom and him. It is funny that sometimes he is so tired he tells his mom he 'I"m done, no more books please".

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