When Does the Sleep Deprivation End, Again? » Teeny Manolo

When Does the Sleep Deprivation End, Again?

By Glinda

If someone could answer that question for me, I’d be grateful to know when the light will be showing at the end of this long and torturous tunnel.

You see, my beautiful, outgoing, mile-a-minute 2 1/2 year old still does not sleep through the night.

Well, Glinda, that’s fairly normal for her age, you say.  It’s a myth that all toddlers sleep through the night.

You would be right.

However, do most toddlers stay up for HOURS?  When I say hours, I mean that last night she was up from 3am to 4:30am and the night before she was up from 12:30am to 3:30am.  This goes on for usually three to four days a week.

She used to spend most of this time screeching, but she’s gotten a little bit better.  We used to think that it was teething pain, but that is no longer the case as she now has all the teeth she is going to have for a while.  We will give her some water, maybe change her diaper, and we certainly don’t sit there and entertain her. However, she has a horrific time going back to sleep, even though she initially falls asleep fairly quickly.

We co-sleep with her, but have also tried leaving her alone, which hasn’t worked very successfully.  And truly, we just can’t take it anymore.  It is impossible for me to predict if she will nap or what time she should go to bed from day to day, which drives this routine-loving mom crazy.

We tried speaking to our pediatrician about the issue, but he blew us off and said it was probably just teething.

My tired husband (who has to get up at 5am for work) and I, who usually have to take shifts during her awake periods, are at the end of our rope.  We talk daily about leaving the kids with some water and crackers and checking ourselves into a hotel.  Uh, jokingly, of course.  As if! As if I would think of doing that.  For more than five minutes.

I never knew how wonderful a sleeper my son was until my daughter came along.  He was sleeping all night from 9 months on, and can still sleep through almost anything.

Any advice?  Because I will admit that I am far from a perfect parent.

7 Responses to “When Does the Sleep Deprivation End, Again?”

  1. Awesomemom Says:

    That is nuts! I say talk to a different Ped until you can get someone to take you seriously.

  2. marvel Says:

    Okay, my first (long) comment was eaten so I’ll try again:

    First, you are not a bad mom. You have a strong-willed child and strong-willed children require a lot of patience. Between your husband’s job, the move, and your recent health challenges, I am convinced you are doing an outstanding job being the anchor your children need in a stressful time. Your daughter has a challenging personality and is at a time of life that is notorious for being a challenging phase. Deep breath: your daughter will grow up in time and you will get through this.

    If I were seeing you in the office of the general practice in which I was trained, the advice for the sleeping issue would be:

    You need to establish a strict routine and stick to it, regardless of screaming hissy fits. We generally recommended against co-sleeping, just because it made it easier to establish routines. So the child needs to go to bed at about the same time every night. Before bed, there should be no TV (within about an hour or so) as that can stimulate the brain. The pre-bed routine should be followed every night and should always precede bedtime, so that the child knows what to expect. (With our first, the routine was bath, books, songs, bed. With the second, the routine was book, song, bed (much shorter!)) Also the routine should move from more active to less active, so the child can gradually relax.

    You cannot make the child go to sleep, of course, but you can restrict her to her room with a dim nightlight. Lock the door if you have to. Seriously. (okay, we’ve never locked the door. But occasionally one of us sits just outside the open door, prepared to plop the errant child back into a bed if she looks like she’s trying to escape.) And then she stays there til a certain time in the morning, whether she is awake or asleep. There will be screaming tantrums at first, but after a couple of weeks usually kids adapt to new routines. She needs to learn to get herself back to sleep.

    Of course, if you want to continue co-sleeping, it is more difficult to enforce a routine, but can be done. Again I would emphasize a pre-bedtime routine, and daughter in bed and lights off at the same time every night, even if she stays up talking to her baby doll or flipping through books or whatever. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, minimize interactions. Do not turn on any lights. Do not get up to get her water (if you must, leave a small sippy cup of water on a nightstand where she can help herself.) If she wants to lie there and talk to her baby doll, that is fine but do not join the conversation. Play possum and pretend to be inert. Eventually she will learn to put herself back to sleep.

    I have a friend at work who is really HIGH ENERGY. When she was little, her parents bought her a springie rocking horse so when she woke up in the middle of the night she could go and bounce by herself and not wake up anybody else.

    If the above advice makes you burst into tears because you HAVE TRIED IT AND IT IS NOT WORKING AND WHAT IS THE NUMBER FOR THE NEAREST DAYS INN I would suggest finding a pediatrician in your area who has specialized in behavioral and developmental pediatrics. (There is such a thing!) You don’t need them long term but a one-time visit to help figure out your daughter’s behavior patterns might be helpful. There is also a style of pediatrics called “family-focused” pediatrics (book written by William Coleman if you want to google) which is different from the typical simple-medical-problem-style pediatrics most people practice; you could look for someone who is familiar with that practice style. Or locate a good child psychologist/ psychiatrist. Again, you don’t need long term therapy or anything but just an outside observer who can observe your family dynamics and help you find a better way of coping with your smart, beautiful, amazing, strong-willed and energetic daughter.

    Oh, and there is nothing wrong with asking someone else to watch your daughter for a night or two so you and your husband can go to a hotel and get some sleep! Do you have doting grandparents nearby? Or really good friends whom you could take turns babysitting for?

    And remember it is not your job to make your daughter sleep. You can’t. But you can put her in a safe, dark and quiet space overnight and expect her to stay there (awake or asleep).

    Good luck Glinda! We love you!

  3. Glinda Says:

    Have I told you how much I love you?

  4. Seana Says:

    I had a lot of success with putting both my boys on a schedule when they were babies. Many people don’t agree with this, and it’s not for everyone, but it worked for us. My boys were sleeping through the night at 8 weeks. Of course, like your kids, my first born was a solid sleeper and would sleep nine or ten hours straight through by the time he was a toddler. My second son had chronic ear infecttions and had trouble sleeping much of the time. The schedule helped though, so that during those sleepless nights, I knew he would go back to sleeping all night eventually and he did. Getting tubes put into his ears helped, but he really got over all of it by about three years old. Now he sleeps so hard it’s nearly impossible to wake him! I agree with Awesomemom, perhaps you should seek a second opinion. If you are interested, I used a book called “On Becoming Babywise.”

  5. marvel Says:

    Also, you could look for a Pediatric Sleep Disorder clinic. (I tried to comment including a link to one in Long Beach but I think it got eaten.) A good sleep clinic can help determine whether there is an underlying “medical” issue (e.g. apnea) or whether it’s behavioral (and can provide advice/treatment plans for both). And the fact that there are such things as Pediatric Sleep Clinics should let you know that LOTS of parents have these issues!

  6. Violet in Twilight Says:

    There are long term strategies like training to sleep in her own room, and not leaving her bed until morning. That would take a lot of effort,consistency and patience from both the parents.

    But if you want something short-term to wait out her growth phase, move her bedtime back.

    When my son was that age, he appeared to have grown out of his evening naps, but started to wake up at the middle of the night and be active. In fact, he was treating his regular bedtime as an evening nap.

    So, we went to back longer evening naps, later bedtimes (with min of 5 hrs between waking from nap and the bedtime — and 60 min gross motor activity in between) and if he woke up at 5am instead of 7am, it was no big deal (rather than at 1am). This move was no worse than a day-light savings adjustment in our case. (moving bedtime at about 30min a day)

  7. Glinda Says:

    Thank you everyone, for your wonderful, thoughtful, and informative comments.

    I have the best readers on the internets, for sure.

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