27 Apr 2015

Help! My four year old now has sleep issues

It's a known fact that I love my sleep, without it I become a grumpy, tearful shell of a mother. I don't function very well at all and I want all the food and all the coffee and that's before 7.30am.

I had geared myself up for the baby being awake and knew that pure adrenaline would get me through the early months. It did and I was fine, then we got some sleep where he slept through the night (bliss) and then we got times that either his belly or teeth would play havoc with his sleep pattern and we'd be up and pacing the floor with a fretful little boy.

I was ready and happy and could write it off as a phase but I wasn't up for my now four year old (three when this all started) developing a sleep issue and waking at least once a night, every night. It's been going on for about four months now and we aren't sure why, nothing new has happened and no significant situations could have (that we know of) brought this on. She previously had been sleeping through the night for a few years with the odd wake up here and there but nothing like this.

At first we thought it was nightmares and she would cry at her safety gate, calling out for us and we would usher her back into bed. Sometimes she took some coaxing to get back to sleep and one of us would be found slumped on her bedroom floor having fallen asleep whilst trying to convince her to go to sleep. The other night I had to almost crawl back to my own bed as both legs had gone dead where I'd been knelt on them and fallen asleep, it was sheer agony!

The gate was removed from her room as we added a gate to the top of the stairs when the boy started to crawl. So now she wakes and comes straight into our room, she doesn't want to get in our bed and can easily be ushered back into her own room, sometimes hubby carries her and she is almost back to sleep as he takes the five steps to her bedroom door. Sometimes she will do this a couple of times a night, it's never the same time (so not an outside noise waking her), it's not always bad dreams or a desire to be in with us.

We recently had three nights in a row of no wake ups from either child which was wonderful but soul destroying when the wake ups began again. It's mind numbing now and very unsettling, I just don't know how to alter this behaviour and can't pin it down to being a certain thing. I'm very keen on having a cause for things and don't like it when there is no explanation, to make matters worse, the boy has been sleeping through so in theory we could all be getting sleep.

Bubba no longer naps in the day (although if its been a particularly bad night she may doze off for 15 to 30 minutes in the car the next day). Hubby and I both feel broken and it's harder to understand and sometimes deal with when she is upset, we've tried asking her to pretend (like her friend does) to be asleep and she may fall back asleep or to wait a few seconds before she gets up (again in the hope she can fall asleep) and she happily agrees with us but her immediate reaction in the middle of the night is to jump out of bed and come running in to us.

She often wakes the next day and more often that not doesn't know why she woke in the night, she gets excited if she realises she stayed in bed. She had issues with the dark (what child doesn't sometimes) and has a night light on all night - it's only a low light as if we turn it off and she wakes in the night she really freaks out.

I don't know what to do to help her (and myself) get more sleep. At the moment she goes to bed at around 7pm and we read a story, have some milk and she is tucked up and lights off by 7.30pm. She wants me to sit in the room and I've slowly made it out to the landing where I now sit and read and usually she will be asleep within five minutes. Every morning she wakes around 6am regardless of the number of wake ups (she has always got up and been ready to start the day at this time).

I just want some help, some advice or to know that it's not only us....is there anyone out there who has suffered a similar problem? It'd be great to hear from you.
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