Attachment Parenting

Can toddlers have insomnia? HELP!!!!

(XP because I'm hoping for gentle sleep advice!)

My 2.5 year old has always been a horrid sleeper - she has gone through periods of "good" sleep when she would sleep 9 hours straight at night, but that has probably been a total of a month out of her whole life, and that was as good as it ever got.

For the last couple months, things have been awful. First, it takes her over an hour to fall asleep. Sometimes she'll lie there for an hour quietly, and other times she'll call out a few times for water/potty etc. which extends things even more. Then she'll wake up every couple hours all. night. long. and call out (water/potty/tuck in/hug/nightmare) - we deal with the issue in the dark and quietly and with little to no interaction. She'll sometimes go back to sleep, and other times she'll just be awake for several hours. Every 2nd night or so, she'll wake up at 1-2am and be awake for the rest of the night, or maybe fall asleep for an hour at 6am but then be up for the day. I watch her on the monitor and she just lies there with her eyes open. She'll usually eventually call out after 1-2 hours of just lying there, understandably, but it's not like she's fussing the whole time. She's clearly trying to fall back to sleep but just can't.

We have a consistent bedtime routine, white noise, and black out blinds. I've tried adjusting her bedtime earlier and later, with no success. We've tried staying in the room with her. We've tried ignoring her, but she gets hysterical which doesn't help and I'm not comfortable with. We've tried talking to her about it, reasoning with her, asking her what is wrong. We've tried dropping her nap, though she clearly still needs it (though will never nap longer than 1.5 hours regardless of how crappy the night before was). We've tried a bigger bedtime snack and no bedtime snack. We've tried just DH going in for a few nights, in case it was me she was wanting, but it makes no difference who deals with her - she just can't fall back to sleep.

I feel SO bad for her, and want her to be able to sleep. And selfishly, this new baby could come any day now and I have no idea how I'm going to deal with a newborn and non-sleeping toddler! I'm SO exhausted already and at the end of my rope. PLEASE HELP!!!!!

(Oh, and I should mention that she's still in her crib, and this doesn't seem to be the issue - she doesn't move around much and she's never tried to climb out or anything. If I move her to a big bed it would mean a whole new set of issues which I'm trying to avoid until we get the current ones under control!)
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Re: Can toddlers have insomnia? HELP!!!!

  • I am having some sleep issues with my 21 month old and many people have recommended a chiropractor. Perhaps that would help? 

    Have you talked to your Dr. about it? I woman I know from a local message board is taking her toddler to a sleep expert. I have no idea what medical issues there could be, but it might not hurt to ask.

    I feel bad for you LO! My ex had insomnia and it sucked. 

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  • I had a co-worker once mention that when her daughter was younger, she had problems falling asleep and apparently she was missing some natural producing hormone (I think) that makes you sleepy. They gave it to her seperately (not sure if it's melatonin) and that cured the problem. I'd check into it and check with your doctor as well. Good luck! Poor you and poor little girl!
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  • I would start looking into medical reasons for this at this point. It could be low melatonin (I have had this problem life long, I'm sure it's part of Ari's sleep issues too), reflux, allergies (environmental or food, although you would probably know if she had allergies), asthma, enlarged adenoids, sleep apnea, the list goes on. 

    I would discuss with your pedi & see if a referral to a sleep specialist is in order, and/or if they would be okay with melatonin supplements.  

    ETA: Also, I wanted to say I totally empathize. We finally got to 1 night waking (just a quick trip to the t & crawling into our bed after spending the 1st 1/2 of the night in his), then teething & pollen season hit. Even with increasing allergy meds, giving Advil, & running an air purifier, he sleeps for crap in the spring & fall allergy seasons. If we can get a job transfer for DH this summer, I will take it in a heartbeat.

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