Parents of Poor Sleepers - Help!


#1

I am looking for advice/suggestions from ANYONE/SOMEONE!!! My 2nd and 3rd children are 17 months apart, younger, 11mos. They are both poor sleepers and have been since infancy. My 2nd, (daughter 2 1/2) developed speech very quickly and we finally figured out from her that she woke up at night because her mouth was dry, she sleeps with her mouth open. It made her throat hurt. I suspect this same problem with my baby.

Each night, my daughter and my baby boy awaken between 2 and 5 times. My daughter cries/screams/kicks/is mad and wakes the whole household. My husband and I have both tried talking to her (no use), asking her to say or point to something that hurts, do you need hugs, etc. She can’t or won’t answer to anything! I have no idea why she is still waking, because she gave up drinking at night a long time ago. Plus she knows how to point or say that her throat (or anything else) hurts.

The way our house has to be set up, I am sleeping with the 3rd baby in the same room as 1st and 2nd child. He nurses from 2 to 4 times per night. He pees accordingly and I change a diaper once sometimes twice. I am in the slow process of weaning him from night nursing and drinking at night from a water cup. He of course is not happy about this and also cries and wakes the whole household.

I am pregnant with our 4th child and in the first trimester the inevitable exhaustion has set in with a vengeance. Especially after a night of waking to pee and baby-tend at least 6 times. I’ve no family near and no friend to relieve me in the daytime to let me nap, so I have to rely on getting all three to nap in the same timeframe, except my daughter wakes during her nap kicking/screaming/mad and wakes the baby early, so the whole process starts again in the naptime, and I am PERPETUALLY EXHAUSTED AND GROUCHY.

DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY HELP TO OFFER??


#2

It might be that your 2.5 year old is not actually awake, even though her eyes are open and she is moving. If she is otherwise responsive when usually awake and developed speech early on, I really would consider that she’s not awake and perhaps having a night terror with her eyes wide open. She may not hear your questions and therefore isn’t responding. Being touched, even though you’re intending comfort, might also add further confusion to her because she feels it but can’t ascertain what is happening to her–since she’s still dreaming.

Can you call your pediatrician about this?


#3

You poor woman! I really suggest reading Dr. Weisbluth’s book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”. I think that he’s pretty “bi-partisan”, in the sense that he won’t tell you to cry it out or not to cry it out but he just gives you an idea of what children are capable of in regards to sleeping and what you can expect. He’ll also give some good suggestions for methods of getting babys to sleep.

If I were you I would definitely work on getting the 2 1/2 year old to learn to put herself back to sleep during the night, no matter what it takes. That may mean a few nights of telling her, “I love you and it’s time to sleep” and then walking out of the room and letting her fall back asleep alone (not easy but I don’t see another way around it without complete breakdown on your end). Maybe you and the other kids can move out into the living room and sleep there for a few nights while she learns to put herself back to sleep. I also think that it would eventually be most beneficial if you weren’t in the room so that she isn’t tempted to lean on you for putting her back to sleep.

But regardless of what I say, read the book b/c it really is helpful (although terribly organized, you might have to read a lot of different sections in order to find what you need) and it doesn’t say that you have to let her cry it out, if you are opposed on priniciple to that.

Also, I would absolutely engage the father of these children, if AT ALL POSSIBLE. This is not healthy for you or for the baby growing in you, or your other children who are obviously not getting enough sleep. He can be a real help when it comes to this kind of thing, if he’s at all involved in your life.

I sincerely hope that things start to clear up for you, that is a very, very hard spot to be in.


#4

My 2 1/2 year old does put herself back to sleep. I actually couldn’t help this, it was inevitable, since she would not accept any comfort or help from us from early on. She cries until she calms down and gets tired again. We just have to bide the time and be patient, and try not to utter any impatient remarks. My husband is very helpful with her, but we are in such close quarters it doesn’t matter, we are still all awakened.

I think I may have read that book, I can’t remember. I’ll check it out. I’ve read lots of books on children sleeping, as you can imagine!!

I hope it all ends soon, I realize it’s not healthy for our new baby or anyone else.

Thanks for the suggestions!


#5

[quote=Princess_Abby]It might be that your 2.5 year old is not actually awake, even though her eyes are open and she is moving.
[/quote]

Actually, the other night, I heard my husband saying, “Anna, wake up. It’s Daddy. Wake up and tell me what’s wrong.” She was up walking around to the bathroom.

I would consider this possibility. But I don’t know because she has been a poor sleeper waking often since a very few months of age.

I have asked my dr. about it, and he didn’t have much advice.


#6

It really does sound like she has symptoms of night terrors. The screaming and kicking with her eyes open yet not responding. BTW, night terrors can start at 6 months of age. Most people with night terrors (generally ages 2-5, though sometimes it lasts until adulthood–very rare) don’t remember what they were actually “seeing,” they just feel afraid once they are fully awake. Episodes usually last between 5-20 minutes.

Night terrors are not dreams, they actually occur in stage 4 of deep sleep–the child has an inability to arouse themselves from deep sleep so they are half-asleep and half-“awake” but not “present.”. There are only a few behavioral approaches I have ever heard of, but…here goes.

Try waking up Anna yourself, before you go to bed and before she has had any sleep disruption. Waking her up out of her own deep sleep will perhaps prevent her body from needing to self-wake a few hours later. Or, if she always has this night terror at 12am, wake her just before you anticipate it happening, like at 11:45pm. Just shake her awake gently, pick up her body and have a short conversation with her. Tell her you love her, you are getting ready to go to sleep, etc. Be sure that she is responding to you, even just one or two words.

The problem with waking her up during the night terror–when she is screaming, agitated, maybe crying, etc.–is that is how the habit is formed of trying to self-wake, yet she has a parasomnia disorder and is unable to always arouse herself out of deep sleep. Hence her problems in the first place. But, if you create a habit of waking HER up…and then fading that…her body might confuse itself into thinking there is no need to self-wake, we were just awake fifteen minutes ago…

As you are trying to re-train her body, it really is best to just let her have the episode, even though it’s hard to listen to the agitation and scary to worry if she’s hurt. She’s not, it’s just that the motor “button” in her brain is turned on, and she’s kicking and her eyes are wide open and she might even walk around, but the rest is still asleep and hence the problem she’s having in making the transition.

Sometimes this can be related to bedwetting, but I assume potty-training isn’t an issue yet?

Also, she is more likely to have night terrors if she’s not getting adequate rest during the day. (Just what you wanted to hear, I bet! ;)) It sounds like it’s tough to get a naptime for everyone, but if it can be arranged it might really help.

I’ve also heard of using night masks, but I have only heard about that with adults and I have no idea where you could find a mask that would fit a baby. Sometimes a small amount of light can be randomly detected even in sleep and then the body starts the process of needing or trying to wake, but the body is unsucessful at waking fully, immediately.

Anyway, that is just some more info for you, as you said it might not be that at all. There ARE some medication interventions but that would always be a last resort…and really only something I would consider if she was hurting herself or doing something dangerous during the episodes.


#7

I was thinking night terrors too. My friend has a son who goes through this. He has been a very poor sleeper from the beginning as well. You probably want to talk to your doctor.


#8

Hi, mass4life …

You poor lady. I can relate to what you are experiencing; my husband and I went through seven years of sleep deprivation because our oldest was a poor sleeper, followed by a younger sister who was a HORRIBLE sleeper. We went through 5 years of being awakened at least once a night, followed by another two years of what you’re now experiencing. It was the worst period of my life - I’m perpetually grouchy even now, because I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the misery of sleep deprivation.

I will pray for you and ask you not to lose hope. Our oldest was fearful because she was the only child for almost 5 years, and slept on a separate floor from us. She just couldn’t handle it and was very insecure. It sounds, though, as if you are in closer quarters. A few suggestions that came to my mind:

  1. A nightlight - though I suspect you’ve tried this already.
  2. A white noise machine. So many people suggested it to us that I broke down and bought one online, from a company called Marsona. The girls love it because you can program in a variety of background noises (rain, surf, train sounds, waterfall) and then add other sounds - birdcalls, train whistles, etc. They have fun choosing different sounds each night. I bought it primarily because my younger daughter was very noise sensitive, and the machine covers up sounds inside the house as well as traffic noises and others that may be beyond your control. It was well worth the money.
  3. Melatonin. My oldest (who’s eight and can handle a pill) takes a 3 mg dose every night. Our pediatrician gave us the OK to give it to our 3-year-old, but she’s so active any more that she does not need any help falling asleep. Hard to believe she’s the same child.
  4. Wearing out your 30-month old. Our younger daughter has tremendous energy reserves, and I always try to get her outside each day, as well as letting her run indoors as much as she wants to. If yours is napping during the day, it may be time to cut that out (though I’m sure you look forward to your own nap every day!)
  5. If all else fails, you may wish to have her evaluated by an occupational therapist - there is a big emphasis now on something called “sensory integration disorder”, and an OT may be able to determine causes for her nighttime behaviour.
  6. Prayer - this phase shall pass, though I know you probably don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel! And do try to find someone to give you a break, because it’s obvous you need it.

God bless.


#9

Have you read The No-Cry Sleep Solution? I think it has quite a bit of helpful advice that doesn’t involve letting the child/baby cry. It’s also specifically geared to nursing mothers and co-sleepers.
How long is your 2.5 year old sleeping per day? Maybe an earlier nap or earlier bedtime, and let her sleep as long as possible. I know people who say their children have night terrors if they are not getting enough sleep.
Try to get them everyone some good sunlight and fresh air every morning…the sunlight is very important though in terms of sleep at night.
If possible, do not change diapers at night. I mean, sometimes you just have to, but it’s generally ok to let it go until morning. (and believe me, i think frequent diaper changes are important)


#10

There could also be diet issues contributing to this. Some people have sensitivities to things that cause restless sleeping or even cause night terrors.

Make sure there is no caffeine, then take a look at sugar, wheat, the sorts of things that cause such reactions.

You might want to go two weeks on a “cleansing” diet, and if that helps, add things back one at a time till you find the “culprit”. I have heard this helping some families with sleep issues.

best to you,

cheddar


#11

i am only on number one so i don’t have much advice but i loved reading the No Cry Sleep Solution.


#12

[quote=mass4life]I am looking for advice/suggestions from ANYONE/SOMEONE!!! My 2nd and 3rd children are 17 months apart, younger, 11mos. They are both poor sleepers and have been since infancy. My 2nd, (daughter 2 1/2) developed speech very quickly and we finally figured out from her that she woke up at night because her mouth was dry, she sleeps with her mouth open. It made her throat hurt. I suspect this same problem with my baby.

Each night, my daughter and my baby boy awaken between 2 and 5 times. My daughter cries/screams/kicks/is mad and wakes the whole household. My husband and I have both tried talking to her (no use), asking her to say or point to something that hurts, do you need hugs, etc. She can’t or won’t answer to anything! I have no idea why she is still waking, because she gave up drinking at night a long time ago. Plus she knows how to point or say that her throat (or anything else) hurts.

The way our house has to be set up, I am sleeping with the 3rd baby in the same room as 1st and 2nd child. He nurses from 2 to 4 times per night. He pees accordingly and I change a diaper once sometimes twice. I am in the slow process of weaning him from night nursing and drinking at night from a water cup. He of course is not happy about this and also cries and wakes the whole household.

I am pregnant with our 4th child and in the first trimester the inevitable exhaustion has set in with a vengeance. Especially after a night of waking to pee and baby-tend at least 6 times. I’ve no family near and no friend to relieve me in the daytime to let me nap, so I have to rely on getting all three to nap in the same timeframe, except my daughter wakes during her nap kicking/screaming/mad and wakes the baby early, so the whole process starts again in the naptime, and I am PERPETUALLY EXHAUSTED AND GROUCHY.

DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY HELP TO OFFER??
[/quote]


#13

Have you tried talking to Dr. Rey??
I had children in the 70’s and they would wake up and scream and I could time it to @ an hour after they were sleeping…I had to make sure they were totally awake before putting them back to bed.
I had one that would be really violent and his mattress and sheets would be off the bed as well.
In time I could tell that if he wasn’t fully awake then it would start all over again…
Vickie :rolleyes:


#14

[quote=rayne89]I was thinking night terrors too. My friend has a son who goes through this. He has been a very poor sleeper from the beginning as well. You probably want to talk to your doctor.
[/quote]

This has crossed my mind as well, but many times I will ask her about crying in the night, and she can tell me what me or my husband said to her. "Daddy said ‘Shh! Stop crying!’ " or whatever it is we have said to her. This makes me think she is awake and is comprehending us.

I have asked my dr. about it and his attitude is, “Well, some kids are like that, tough luck.”


#15

[quote=m33z3r]Hi, mass4life …

  1. Wearing out your 30-month old. Our younger daughter has tremendous energy reserves, and I always try to get her outside each day, as well as letting her run indoors as much as she wants to. If yours is napping during the day, it may be time to cut that out (though I’m sure you look forward to your own nap every day!)

[/quote]

This does help. She does not scream and cry every night, just sometimes. She sleeps better when we have been out and exercising.


#16

[quote=annb]If possible, do not change diapers at night. I mean, sometimes you just have to, but it’s generally ok to let it go until morning. (and believe me, i think frequent diaper changes are important)
[/quote]

Anna is fully toilet trained.


#17

[quote=cheddarsox]There could also be diet issues contributing to this. Some people have sensitivities to things that cause restless sleeping or even cause night terrors.

Make sure there is no caffeine, then take a look at sugar, wheat, the sorts of things that cause such reactions.

You might want to go two weeks on a “cleansing” diet, and if that helps, add things back one at a time till you find the “culprit”. I have heard this helping some families with sleep issues.

best to you,

cheddar
[/quote]

I haven’t thought of this. I will keep an eye on this. There’s no history of food allergies in our families, but she doesn’t drink caffeine or anything like that. I feed my children healthy food. Perhaps it’s something “normal” causing the reaction.


#18

You might also want to have your children examined by an Ear, Nose and Throat dr. They could have enlarged tonsils or anoids. This could keep them from breathing properly during sleep, causing them to wake up. With my daughter, she had enlarged tonsils. Before her tonsils were removed, she would wake up several times during the night, crying, upset and it would take a good hour to get her back to sleep. She also suffered from night terrors and the only thing that would calm her is for me just to hold her and slowly rock her. Her tonsils were removed when she was 6, and for 2 and half years we have had quiet nights from her. Now my son, who is five, still has night terrors and growing pains, although they are not as often as my daughters.

Good luck


#19

Let us know how things progress.


#20

First of all, you have a good reason to be frustrated. You have a lot of children very close together. Someday, things will get easier, but having a lot of little children very close in age is very difficult.

Have you tried praying with them? This is a very obvious idea that a lot of people don’t think of. I mean, lay your hands on their head or shoulder, and say something out loud like “Dear Jesus - this child is very sad right now. Please come and make her happy and help her to get a good night’s sleep. Please come and help her so she won’t think there are monsters in the room!” You can also say prayers out loud like the Our Father, Hail Mary, or the Angel of God.

If the child is actually afraid of something, it is amazing how this will calm things down. I have used this idea on my grandchildren, and it can be very effective.


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