4 Year Old Not Sleeping Through the Night

Updated on May 27, 2009
I.D. asks from Minneapolis, MN
6 answers

Hi, Moms! I'm looking for advice on helping my almost 5-year-old to sleep through the night. The last couple of weeks, he is waking up almost every night, 2 - 4 times a night. He tells me he has bad dreams, he's thirsty, he's scared (he does have a low-level night light), or there is no reason, and I think he just wants a tuck-in. He does still nap during the day, usually every other day. If he's not had a nap, we put him to bed at 7:30, and if he has had a nap, we put him down at 8:30. We have a very regular routine each night--3 books, brush teeth and potty, bible story, prayers, night-time music, and laying down with him for 5 minutes or so, just talking about the day and winding down.

Preschool has just ended for the year, last week, and so I am wondering if maybe he is not getting enough activity during the day to tire him sufficiently. Also wondering if we should cut out his nap entirely; he seems to need one every now and again, though, and if he doesn't nap, he doesn't sleep any longer at night. No matter when we put him to bed, it seems like he'll only sleep about 9 - 9 1/2 hours a night.

We don't let him have any screen time within two hours of bed time, and he is limited to up to 2 hours a day, including computer, tv, or leapster.

I think he might be going through a growth spurt, or is on the end of one, and wonder if he is perhaps hungry and waking--what would be a good before bed snack?

I'm a SAHM, so I know he is getting enough time with me during the day. He doesn't get as much time with dad since he is commuting an hour each way to work, but it's me he always wakes up.

He seems to go through these stages every couple of months, and we finally break down and set up a pillow and blanket on the floor and tell him to just come in and sleep on the floor in our room, if he's having trouble sleeping, so we can get a decent night's sleep. And he does that for a couple of weeks, and then goes back to sleeping in his own room. But we always have to make an incentive for him to stay in his bed all night, like being able to play the Wii the next day if he stays in bed all night, etc.

So, any advice you have would be wonderful. :) Thanks in advance for your help!

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answers from Sheboygan on

I would suggest cutting down on a lot of things. IMO, 4-5 year olds don't need naps. He's not sleeping soundly at night because he's not tired. Your bedtime routine sounds really long, too. Maybe with so much time at bedtime being devoted to him, he doesn't want it to end or doesn't realize that it needs to end. You can read books (and bible stories)and pray at all times of the day--maybe cut down to one book, one bible story, prayers and then end it.
You sound like an awesome mom, and the bedtime routine is really giving him some nice stability and special time. But I think he's playin' you a little bit too ;) Cut down on it and keep it down to an hour or hour and a half (bath, brush teeth, book, bible, prayers, kisses and done)
What your trying to teach him is how to put himself to sleep in the future. It's a skill that in a few years should become very simple--brush teeth, prayers, kiss.
Good luck, you good mommie, you

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I think the idea of a sleeping bag on your floor at night is great! If he knows it is there in case he gets scared or wants to be close to you guys, he will probably use if for a while and then be more comfortable sleeping in his own bed. If it is forbidden to him it might make him more anxious and continue waking to make sure you come to him. If he isn't waking you as much on the sleeping bag I would keep up with that. I really don't understand why so many people think co-sleeping or sleeping in the same room with your baby/child is such a bad thing. If everyone is getting more sleep that way, why not? It's not like he will still be sleeping on your floor in high school : )




answers from Omaha on

I have learned with my son, he needs lots of outdoor activity. Even when it means keeping him up 30 minutes longer in the evening, he tends to sleep all night. Good luck.



answers from Rapid City on

Hi I. -- I think you may be right that he's not worn out enough. Definitely schedule some activity time during the day to keep a structure. We have some right after both lunch and dinner. Also for the bedtime snack, I have heard that it is good to give them something with mostly carbohydrates, as proteins tend to keep awake more. Maybe graham crackers/ apple and warm milk? Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

It's probably a combination of the change in routine and having extra sunlight during the day. I myself need less sleep in May-June-July when we have the most sunlight here in the Midwest.

I would say you could try shortening or altogether eliminating the naps. Also, I would give Hyland's Calms Forte 4 Kids a try. (Hyland's is the company that makes the famous "teething tablets".) I have been using the Calms Forte for adults and it is amazing!! Helps you relax naturally, is NOT a sedative. The kids version is for kids 2 and older. It is a homeopathic treatment--can't say enough about it. You could also try some chamomile tea before bedtime. Good luck.




answers from Minneapolis on

My guess is that it is the change in routine (preschool ending)that is doing it.
I have a couple things to try. If you give him a bath before bed, try to do it earlier... or if you don't try doing it right before bed. My daughter gets rejuvinated from a bath, and my son gets relaxed and sleepy :)

Then try to stop the daytime napping for a week, unless he falls asleep on his own. If he falls asleep on his own before 3 or 4 pm, I would let him sleep no more than an hour. If it is getting closer evening hours, I would do whatever you can to keep him up.

Last, physical activity tires them out, but if it is too close to bedtime it could get him pumped up. Try to find something you can do with him during the day that would excersize him. Go for a long walk, or bike ride, outdoor play wears my kids right out.

As far as a bedtime snack, i would avoid suger at all costs :) Maybe try some kind of crackers, or a veggie that he likes. Not fruit, or cookies.

I personally would not let him stay in my room, I feel it just makes it worse, because they will want to more if you let them once in a while. If you never let them, they won't try.

I hope something helps.