14 August 2007

Sleep Woes

Oh, I can sleep just fine.

But the child. She only wants to sleep with us - really, only with me. And it's not that we mind her being in the bed with us - it seems natural, somehow. And I know we're not alone - I was happy to read Jennifer Niesslein's piece in the summer issue of Brain Child, to learn that her almost seven year old still sleeps with them. He says "I am never ever going to sleep in my own room. It's boring there." Oh yes, sounds like my almost four year old: "There are no real people there. I am lonely for you."

I know that she will eventually move out of my room and back into her own sweet bed.

No, the problem is that she just won't go to sleep. We read books, we sing songs, I rub her back. She wiggles, demands covers, rearranges her stuffed animals, talks to them, tries to talk to me, flips around so her head is at the foot of the bed, kicks out from under the covers, builds a fort with the pillows. In short, anything but sleeping. If I try and put her to bed in her room, she does the same thing, but eventually gives up and comes looking for her grownups. This bedtime nonsense can go on for hours before she finally conks out.

I've re-read Ferber and Weissbluth - there's nothing of use. "Cry It Out" doesn't work if the kid can climb out of bed, turn on the light and open the door.

I don't know what to do.


Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

We had a similar problem, it lasted (sorry!) about six months. Except I sleep in the kids' room, rather than their sleeping with me. My husband is a super light sleeper. Anyway, the only thing that that's ever worked is stalling. I say, I'm going to drink my tea, then I'll come back when I'm finished; and often the recalcitrant child falls asleep before I return.

You might also try an evening swimming class. Wear her out. I hear that has worked for other people.

Girlplustwo said...

oh wow. we haven't encountered this (yet) and to be honest, it terrifies me. i relish and require those few waking hours of alone time before bed.

so i have no advice but i am commisserating wholly.

S said...

what can i say, we were meanies on this front.

we'd pick up the child who wandered into our room, and without words (but without anger, either) place him back in his bed. as many times as it took. grueling? yes. successful? yes. mean? depends on your perspective, i suppose.

Furrow said...

Oh, boy. I was so into bedtime -- my own, private, uninterrupted bedtime -- as a kid that I can't relate to this. But I know that there are no guarantees with my offspring. A few days ago I was saying something about the gestating girl that began with "If she's anything like me..." and the listeners cocked their eyebrows knowingly.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry. My kids were awful AWFUL sleepers as babies and now do well; but I will put off the crib-to-bed transition as long as possible for my younger one because I dread this scenario. I do remember the first night that we put our baby girl to sleep in a crib in a different room. I felt awful--she was all alone there, and the rest of the family (mom, dad, dog) all together in a separate bedroom!

Maewen Archer said...

I have to get into bed with my 3 year old at naptime and bedtime (my 2 year old boy actually prefers to sleep alone -- for now). I try giving her a "buddy" to sleep with, but she usually says "I want a real friend that talks." Me.

She's finally going to sleep at naptime by herself -- I say I'm "going to check on something" and don't come back (I feel a little guilty). At night, I pretend to sleep until she falls asleep and then sneak to my room -- sometimes she follows, sometimes not. I'm just trying to accept it -- when I try to fight it, she just wants to sleep with me more.

niobe said...

I know that she will eventually move out of my room and back into her own sweet bed.

Not to dishearten you, but at least one child that I know didn't for many, many years after four and even after seven.

Tabba said...

talk with your ped. about melatonin.

we had a similar "situation" with our son last year and the lack of sleep was lending to behavior problems.

after several suggestions by our ped. in regards to the melatonin, we finally caved.

Connor was only on it for a few months & then his body regulated itself and no more of the night-time craziness at bedtime.

best of luck to you!

S. said...

Since she hit about 6 or 8 months, I haven't been able to sleep with Z. next to me, so we've had a two-year-long process of moving her out of our bed and improving her bedtime routine. This time last year, I don't think she was night-weaned. Not completely. And certainly she was still nursing down until early spring. And we still had the giant bed arrangement (her twin shoved up against our queen) right up until April.

Now she does get herself that last little step to sleep by herself, but it's only been maybe a month or so since we accomplished that.

What worked: highly ritualized bedtime routine where we signaled each upcoming step well in advance, repeating over and over that after X (the last song, the last story), she would get a kiss goodnight and go to sleep. Her routine, from bath to kiss, is still over an hour. But she does know we won't stay with her til she's down. And if she gets out of bed again, she's going right back in.

(And there are still naps and nights where she wails and screams. But they are becoming less frequent.)

BipolarLawyerCook said...

Don't know if this counts as child abuse, but I distinctly recall being locked into my room at about age 5 after my kicking and rolling made it impossible to sleep. I think I spent 2 or 3 nights wailing and screaming (at least, I remember jiggling the door handle and hearing my mom tell me through the door that I had to sleep in my own bed) and then I got used to it.

I think it was also the last time I was ever "punished", either, so maybe it's too abusive. But slouching mom's idea sounds like a good compromise.

susan said...

Around here, I've stopped construing this as a problem, which is probably not what you want to hear! I did manage to teach Curious GIrl to put herself to sleep for an afternoon nap (it took about a week of trying, after she started going full days at daycare and needed to nap there, when what she was doing was wailing for over an hour). But for nighttime, she's never been able to put herself to sleep, and she can't put herself back to sleep if she wakes up in the night. And her cries when alone at night are just awful. For a long time we all slept together; these days, when she cries, I go in and sleep in her bed in her room. (it's a double).

The thing is, when I am not home, CG will wake in the night and walk into our bedroom to wake up Politica or crawl into our bed. But when I am home, I can't get her to do anything other than cry or sometimes just call for me. She just won't get out of bed. So maybe she could handle the night differently, but I'm not willing to lose sleep over it when I need to be at work in the morning.

This way, Politica and I get alone time at the start of the night, and most nights, I get good morning snuggles with CG (and Politica gets to sleep much later, which she likes). It's not ideal, but it works OK.

But hardly what any of the baby/toddler/child books recommend. I, too, liked that Jennifer Nielssen piece.

Antropóloga said...

I don't know what to tell you, and I know a lot of people with this issue, but that sounds annoying! Maybe you could try some kind of reward thing for staying in her own room/bed.

NotSoSage said...

1. I'm sorry.

2. I know. Boy, do I know.

3. The only thing that's worked so far is jennifer (ponderosa)'s trick. And right now I've got a little one standing next to me playing with stickers because it didn't work tonight.

4. Good luck.

painted maypole said...

I have no help for you. Except maybe benydryl, but I am not an advocate of drugging children. much.


Good luck.

thirtysomething said...

Sometimes TV before bed can stimulate alertness. One of my sons suffers with this and so we turn off TV a couple hours before tucking him in..all goes well now, but he used to take like two hours before he could physically calm down and fall asleep.
Hang in there, can be very frustrating.

Aurelia said...

All the suggestions above are great, especially the rituals and melatonin.

But I have to say - lock her in the room, possibly with yourself in there as well. Pretty soon she'll get the hint.

The key to all of this is consistency and refusing to give in. You are looking to impress her with the "Mommy is never budging from this position, or giving in" face. She is old enough to see the logic at her age.

It worked for me and for Depressionista.

Anonymous said...

Hey! We do have the same child. If things continue going this way, I may try slouching mom's methods.

Oh, and thanks for visiting my blog. :)

Anonymous said...

I have no advice - just sympathy. I can't get my 16 month old to sleep through the night, and one the rare occasions he does, my 4 year old has night terrors. Sheesh. Maybe if I wasn't FORTYFOUR this wouldn't be quite as annoying. ;)