22 answers

Four Year Old Has Insomnia

My four year old daughter has insomnia and I'm not sure what to do about it. I've tried several different (tons) of things to get her to go to sleep at night, but it just isn't working. She never goes to sleep before 10:00. She takes a two hour nap at school so I'm not really worried about her not getting enough sleep. I just want her to be able to go to bed earlier.

ETA:
I definitely think her nap time at school is too long. I don't think she needs a nap at all. She doesn't take one on the weekends and she is fine. I'm just not sure how to get the daycare to quit giving her a nap.

ETA, again:
Ok, more info. She does not usually sleep well at all. She hasn't been a good sleeper since we brought her home. She has had nightmares (based on her doctor's assessment) since she was about six months old. If she would wake up and we weren't holding her then she would shake uncontrollably until we could get her to calm down. It was terrifying and there really isn't a good way to explain it in writing. She has pretty much always slept with us. At first it was to get her to go to sleep, then it was becuase I was worried about her waking up alone and scared like that, and there have been other things.

Regardless of how you feel about cosleeping, it works for us. We have one that sleeps wonderfully alone and one that needs us at night and we are OK with that.

So after all of that is said, she is not a good sleeper. She wakes often at night. She has dreams and nightmares. She talks in her sleep. When we do try to get her to sleep alone she walks in her sleep and we will find her all over the house. She will sit up in the bed at night and just "stare", but she is asleep the whole time.

I don't mind laying down with her at night to get her to sleep. But right now if she goes to bed with us at 10, she will fidget and squirm for at least 30 minutes because she just can not relax and go to sleep. I've tried putting her to bed earlier with a quite movie, a book, music, etc. to get her to relax before bed, but it just doesn't seem to help.

The daycare, changing is not an option. I would rather her take a nap and work with her at night than change. My daycare is wonderful and if this is the only thing we can't come to terms on then I'll deal with it. I would not send her to an inferior center just to get her to go to bed earlier. Ours is rated very highly and has been chosen by the state as one of five in our area for a special teaching program. And it is not just that, the workers are awesome and genuinely love our kids. They take an interest in their lives, like coming to offsite birthday parties and events, and care about them. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

To be completely honest, I haven't asked them about doing away with her nap time. I guess I'm afraid they will tell me no and that will give me a reason to be upset with the.

Thanks for all the advice so far. It has really given me a lot to think about. I guess I would really like to hear from someone that has had a child with similar sleep issues because if it isn't something you've been through then it is so hard to explain. Before her I would have thought that it was just the parent not being firm enough or something, but I can assure you that is not the issue in our house.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I took a little bit of everyone's suggestions. I talked to the Director at the daycare and explained the problem. They really don't have a place to put her while everyone else is napping, but they have shortened her nap time.

I also took her in to see her doctor. He suggested the regular things, bed at the same time every night, story and quiet activities before bed, etc. He did say that I could try the melatonin, but that it hasn't been tested in children and no one knows the right dose. He said to start with a quarter of an adult dose and see what happened. He also said to be sure that she has NO caffiene at all, including chocolate. I actually hadn't thought about that. I'm not sure how much she has been getting, but I'm going to watch closer and try to cut it out all together.

For about the last week I have been taking her to bed a little earlier and we "talk" for a little while (until I get too tired) and then I tell her she can stay awake if she wants, but that she has to be quiet. Within 10 minutes she is usually asleep. I'm going to keep trying this and move it up earlier little by little to see if that helps.

Thanks for all the input.

Featured Answers

I absolutely disagree with giving a child anything to get them to sleep!! As the others suggested just get rid of the nap and let her adjust to getting all of her sleep at night. No doubt she be tired earlier and sleep great once she her body adjusts to the new schedule!
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Hi J.,
you did not mention if your daughter sleeps the nite thru. but I agree that a 2 hr nap during the day is too long for a 4 year old. She should maybe have a 30 or 45 minute nap if needed or no nap at all at that age. Unfortunately most day cares insist that all the children "nap". I would speak with the day care and explain your issue with her at bed time and see if they can make an exception with her- like take her to another room and let her color or play while the others nap..... or give her some task to perform etc- if they don;t want to cooperate I would consider changing day care. Taking naps during the week and not on week end will upset her sleep schedule and if she does good on week ends she does not need to nap during the week.
good luck and blessings

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,
I don't know if anyone suggested this (there are lots of responses I don't have time to read!!) so I wanted to throw it out there. 1. Sit with your daughter and teach her how to do deep breathing and then at night have her take deep breaths to relax herself. 2. When in bed, have her rub her feet together, rubbing the arches of one foot on the ball of her other foot - it's a great self relaxation technique! 3. My girlfriend was told by her naturopath to give a small dose of Melatonin before bath. They have little melting tablets just for kids and it worked wonders for her super-high-strung 5 yo boy.

Between some relaxation techniques and doing away with that nap, you should be good to go! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I absolutely disagree with giving a child anything to get them to sleep!! As the others suggested just get rid of the nap and let her adjust to getting all of her sleep at night. No doubt she be tired earlier and sleep great once she her body adjusts to the new schedule!
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with Laurie. As far as the day care goes, just tell them the problem and that you do not want her to nap. My four and a half year old rarely takes naps now. If he does, it is for less than an hour. I don't know if this will help, but both of my boys went through a period when they were around 3 of waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning and we fixed it with a high protien snack before bed. They couldn't make it through the night without getting hungry. It greatly improved their mood in the morning as well.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with some of the others. A two hour nap for a 4 year old is rarely heard of. My 4 year old will nap maybe once every 2 weeks (and that is only because he's fallen asleep in the car). I would definitely insist they not do this anymore and explain it is affecting her sleep at night and affecting your family life. I hate to think this way but the fact that the daycare is trying to nap a 4 year old sounds like they are being a bit lazy. You don't pay them to have her sleep. I think this is probably your biggest issue. Good luck. I hope you all get some rest soon!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.!

I can completely relate to sleeping issues with kiddos!! We have 5 and ALL of them have special needs. I didnt read every word in the suggestions that were given to you but browsed them. After all is said and done you are that sweet girls mama, you know best, go with your gut! I have dealt with MAJOR sleeping issues with my kids. I am actually worried about your little girl when you say she wakes up shaking, and blank staring but "still asleep." I would rule out ANYTHING medical first. My first son has aweful sleeping issues and we found out he has autsim. I would almost suggest you take her to a pediatric neurologist. they would make sure nothing else is going on and she isnt having some mild seizures. My first son we started with Benadryl to help him sleep. If there is something going on with your little girl, which is sounds like it, cuz she cant physically relax or stay asleep, they cannot help it! Benadryl helped my son immensly!! when he got older we switched over to melatonin. it is a natural supplement. Your body already makes it just some kids need more of it to relax, fall alseep and STAY asleep. I would highly suggest this! I have another son with autism, a daughter with lots of medical issues and sleep is VERY important! for you and your sweet babe. Its sounds to me like she cant help it, and allthough routines and schedules are great, we live by them, she is gonna need more. Call your dr get a referral, and try something like benadryl, if you not sure about a medication, do the melatonin. You can find the pills at a walmart, but its a little harder to get the liquid form. Some specialty stores have them, i have just gotten them offline. And just a little encouragement. I have been to about every specialist known to man kind with my sweet kiddos! It can be daunting at times. But I just take the approach that what ever is going on with them, they already have! So, I want to know, and find out what it is, so I can help them and do everything I possibly can to give them a happy healthy successful life no matter how severe or mild the issue might be. Hang in there! let me know if you have any questions! I would be as proactive as you possible can, if you dont like what one dr has to say find a different one! Oh and about the daycare thing, it sounds like you have a great relationship with them! Just ask them not to give her a nap anymore, and even offer to send a "naptime goody bag for school" she can color, read books, put headphones on and watch a DVD, have a snack. You are the momma you get to decide, ok! :)

1 mom found this helpful

I agree that nap time is super long. Find another daycare that will not give a two hour nap to a four yr old. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 4 year old girl who started fighting nap time about a year ago. I finally gave it up six months ago because I noticed that when she had a nap (usually 2 hours) she had trouble falling asleep at night. I tried giving shorter naps, but she is very difficult to wake once she is asleep. So we no longer do naps, instead we have "quiet time" in her room in the afternoon. Some day cares will allow children to have quiet time in a separate room from the sleeping children. They can use the time to look at books, color, puzzles any quiet activity. If my daughter has a nap, she will not fall asleep before 10 pm either, so I understand your dilemna. If the day care is not accomodating to your needs as a family (for her to go to bed earlier), then I'd look for another place that is more understanding. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

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