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4 year old not sleeping through the night anymore.

For the last few weeks my 4 yr old wakes up in the night and doesn't go back to sleep for hours. This is a typical night: Bedtime is at 9:30. He finally falls asleep around 11. He wakes up between 3 and 4:30 and will be awake til anywhere from 7 to 8:30. I wake him up again around 10 because we do the cycle all over again. It doesn't matter how much sleep he gets or doesn't get- he sticks strictly to this cycle. He doesn't nap during the day (never has, not even when he was in day care last year.) He says he doesn't need anything (a drink, snack, etc.) and that he didn't wake up because of a nightmare. He's generally in a good mood when he wakes up and stays put in his bed, usually talking to his stuffed animals and whatnot. I figure if I just leave him be, he'll go back to sleep soon but I'm apparently wrong. I have no idea if I'm handling this situation right or what is causing it. Any ideas?

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Asked by Anonymous at 1:39 PM on Jan. 25, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (5)
  • OP here: Forgot to add, before this happened he slept straight through the night for 10 hours easily. Nothing new has happened. This development is completely out of the blue.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:40 PM on Jan. 25, 2010

  • Talk to your doctor about starting a melatonin regimen. It is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring hormone that regulates sleep patterns. You can get it at any drug store and most grocery stores over the counter in pill or liquid form. My 3yo started doing the same thing and We did 3mg of crushed melatonin in a drink before bed for about 2 weeks and we stopped with the melatonin because his sleep cycle had righted itself. Melatonin is safe for use in children and like I said- available over the counter.

    Answer by IamPatSajak at 1:41 PM on Jan. 25, 2010

  • Maybe a warm glass of milk before he goes to bed. Put him to bed earlier like 8:30 pm. Be sure he goes to the bathroom before bed. Then read a bedtime story to relax him. Let him tell you what his favorite part of his day was. This way ethere are no excuses for getting up out of bed. Turn onff the lightsay goodnight and just leave the room.

    Putting him to bed at the same time every night should help.

    My kids did this and slept all night. Good luck.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:45 PM on Jan. 25, 2010

  • I would put him to bed earlier... really make sure you have a good wind-down routine in place, the same every day. Don't do anything too active after dinner and keep the lights low. Put him to bed at 8pm or something... He won't know what time it is, and you might be surprised... this could help him kick it. And then wake him up at 8am if you can (unless he just finally fell asleep at 7:30. Open the windows and let all the natural light in that you can. And turn lights on, too, It sounds like his internal clock is off... sometimes it needs to be jump-started. But overtired kids usually have sleep troubles... he's somehow gotten thrown off and is probably too tired to sleep well... YOu may want to check out "No Cry Sleep Solutions for Toddlers and Preschoolers" by Elizabeth Pantley. It's helpful.

    Answer by EmilySusan at 1:49 PM on Jan. 25, 2010

  • Melatonin will help him fall asleep, but will not help him stay asleep. I would wake him earlier than 10 am, like around 8.

    Answer by missanc at 3:26 PM on Jan. 25, 2010

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