Normal Stages in Sleep For The Child Ages 4-9

Some friends and I were recently discussing older children that take an hour or so to really fall asleep.  It reminded me of some of the things I have read regarding normal sleep stages. 

Around age three is when many children start to go to bed “well”, but they may wake up in the middle of the night and walk around or play.  This night waking often disappears by age four, and it may not disturb anyone in the family, but you may find them asleep in odd places in the morning.  

Four through seven year olds typically also go to sleep well, but five year olds often have terrible nightmares and wake up screaming.  Five and a half year olds and six year olds may also have nightmares, but are usually more readily quieted and calmed than the early five year old.

Children around the age of eight  and nine especially often have a really hard time going to sleep; but eight is a lower point for nightmares.  Typically there is a rise in nightmares again around the age of nine, which decreases by age ten.

I have seen many children who had trouble sleeping from infancy on; I have also seen children that had extreme trouble in sleeping in infancy who do quite well falling asleep and sleeping through the night during their preschool years and above.  It seems to vary widely from individual to individual.  It also has seemed to me, from what I have observed, is that children who were in co-sleeping families often do not seem to go through the “hard to go to sleep phase” of eight and nine.  That has just been my experience; please leave yours in the comment box.

One thing The Gesell Institute of Human Development recommends in their writings for children who are having trouble falling asleep is to check for allergies to artificial food dyes, but also the common allergens of dairy, wheat and corn.

Nighttime fears can also play a part in a child having difficulty going to sleep.  Children can fear wild animals, robbers, the safety of the home, and many other things before they try to go to sleep.  It seems the height of this can be for an eight year old.    I don’t know as there is any one set way to respond to these fears; I think much of how one approaches this depends on the individual child.  Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do in this situation is to accept that this is only for a season and to let the older child fall asleep in the parent’s bed and then move the child to their own room.

I would love to hear your stories on this subject in the comment box.

Many blessings,

Carrie

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57 thoughts on “Normal Stages in Sleep For The Child Ages 4-9

  1. Carrie,
    I might also add that when my now 8 year was 5 and she was in a non-injurious car accident with my mom, she began to have a few anxieties – and the weather was one of those things (it rained during the actual accident). So, sleep became an issue if there was anything but great weather. These were real fears she had, although you couldn’t just rationalize them away. What we ended up doing is using homeopathic remedies from an anthroposophical doctor along with some therapeutic baths. After a few months, it did settle her down. Years later, she goes to sleep great. Still naps on weekends too, on her own. So, I would just highly recommend anthroposophical remedies if things are really difficult/painful for a child. Uriel Pharmacy, out of Wisconsin, carries a wonderful cream to rub on the heart, called Aurum Lavender, which we still use on occasion with our youngest now 2.
    Warmly,
    Monika

  2. My 8.5-year-old does have a difficult time falling asleep at night, and he co-slept until age two (and was always welcome in our bed in the middle of the night after that).

    My 4.5 year old dd has never slept through the night consistently. She’ll go for maybe two weeks of sleeping well, and then it’s back to nightwaking. Currently she has nightmares almost every night and has had for a good year. So from what you’ve written, I’m dreading thinking that if she’s almost five, we’ve got more of it coming!

    My sister-in-law had good success getting her dd to sleep all night by purchasing a weighted blanket (like those that are sometimes used for autistic children). It’s like a puff quilt, and the puffs are filled with some kind of beads. Her dd started sleeping through the night the very first night they used the blanket and has ever since. When the blanket is dirty and in the wash, she wakes. When she gets it back, she’s right back to sleeping. I think my niece was too young for this, as she was only about 14 months at the time they started it, and I think nightwaking is still very normal at 14 months. But I dream of getting one of those blankets for dd, just to see if it would work! The only problem is that they are very expensive.

    Between the 4-year-old, our 4-month-old baby, and the dog, my dh and I are up multiple times a night! We’re tired!

  3. Carrie, I do not have any experience with 8 year olds as my oldest is just shy of age 4, but I remember my own childhood clearly and I have always, always been a night person. Even before I can remember, my parents said as a tiny infant I wanted to stay up late and sleep in. I’ve read in various places over the years that you are either an owl or a lark, genetically, and that for the owl, it is just as difficult to rise early as it is for a lark to stay up late. (My sister is a lark and she turns into a pumpkin at about 8:45 pm, which is when my brain finally switches on!) I say this because I wonder if some kids take longer to fall asleep just because they are more of a night person. My almost 4 year old has always been a wonderful sleeper, but she could not sleep in my bed with me past about 2 months old. It woke her up often during the night, and one night I put her in her room at suppertime thinking I’d move her to my bed when she woke in (I assumed) just a couple of hours, but she slept straight through, and I realized she hadn’t been getting the rest she needed in bed with me. Ever since, she has been a champion sleeper except for one period just before she turned three when she’d turn on the light at 3 in the morning and want to play. She sleeps for 11-13 hours straight, and the most important thing we do for her is remain very, very consistent with her routine and bedtime. The variation in timing has to do with when she woke up the previous day and how much physical play/outside time she has gotten. She gave up her nap before age 2.5, though, and we really cannot LET her nap, because even a 15 minute nap will cause her to be awake 2 hours later than normal at bedtime, regardless of how tired she is or how consistent our routine! I can tell already my 6 month old is not going to sleep as well, and I WISH she would sleep well in bed with me, because I have tried and tried, but she just doesn’t sleep very well anywhere. She is very sensitive to noise, so even with white noise, you have to be very quiet once she’s asleep. I had hoped cosleeping would be a good fit, it’s just not. There is the co- part, as in, we are together, but there is not much of the sleep part! I might get a three hour block of sleep, but then when she stirs, she is WIDE awake, and we are up for two hours, whereas when she sleeps in her own bed, if she stirs, I get her right back to sleep. I continue to hope for more sleep as she grows! :) I think how well a child sleeps has much to do with genetics and temperament and individual personality. We love to feel like if we do certain things, we can adjust their behavior but I am starting to believe that sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you do…that is just the way this child is.

  4. Thank you for this post. It is very helpful to know what is expected at specific ages. Our family bedshares. My two teenage sons sleep in their own beds now, of course, but my 7 year-old and 4 year-old sleep with us every night and have since birth. I have not seen these patterns in my children. In fact, I don’t recall any of my kids having any problem with nightmares. My 7 year old has started having problems going to sleep, occasionally. Maybe she is starting the 8 year pattern early?? Well, thank you for this post again! Very helpful! I would love to read a post on the number of hours each age needs and good bed times :)

  5. My older son just turned 4 a few weeks ago and began having a hard time going to sleep, as well, because of fear of monsters and bad guys. Previous to turning 4, we had recently implemented a new bedtime routine where instead of lying with him until he fell asleep, we only lied down with him for about 5 minutes and he would fall asleep on his own. It worked well for a couple weeks, but then the night fears really kicked in. We had implemented the new routine because I am alone with my boys so many nights while my husband is at school and it made things work out easier for us all at got the boys to bed earlier giving me time to work a little and unwind.

    So, when the big fears started I wasn’t sure our new routine would work anymore. We tried a flashlight, but that didn’t work. Then one night when it was particularly tough getting E to bed, he said he wanted to tell the monsters that they should go away. We decided to make signs right then and there and put them up. I have always told him that monsters are scared of kisses, hugs and snuggles so we made signs that said: Beware Monsters! We give hugs, we blow kisses! Then I told him he could keep his light on as long as he lied down and looked at books. I lied back down with him for a few minutes then left him to his books. It has worked wonderfully so far and he typically falls asleep within 15 minutes.

    On night wakings, E only wakes up once each night to come into our bed about midnight, then sleeps the rest of the night. He falls asleep about 9 (8 pm before the time change) and wakes about 8 or 8:30 in a wonderful mood. I feel like we have supported these great, gradual sleep habits of his because we have co-slept and worked together to guide him into his bed but still responded with sensitivity to his nighttime needs, not rushing him out of the family bed, or pushing him into anything he wasn’t ready for.

  6. Between my 4 kids, I feel like sleep patterns are all over the place in our house! My oldest 2 (now 9 and almost 7) were great sleepers from the very beginning and still are. We do have periods of bad dreams, but that has always been a rare case, especially for my 9 year old. I have noticed with him (9 yo) that he does take a while to fall asleep, but he will also sleep in if necessary to make up a bit from that. My almost 7 year old *needs* to be in bed at 7ish every night and will wake up at the same time each morning no matter what. He is my quickest to sleep child (usually within 5 minutes he is snoring). Now my 5 year old and 21 month old have very similar sleep patterns. My 5 year old had regular nigthwakings until he was about 3.5. Now is goes in spurts, but for most part, is restricted to waking to use the bathroom and then drifting back to sleep. But it takes him at least 30 minutes to fall asleep initially at bedtime. My 21 month old is still night waking as well. Although it is down to 1-2 times a night. So far, she is taking after my 3rd born.
    I have always wondered too how thumb sucking played a roll in their abilitly to fall alseep. My oldest two are thumb suckers and my youngest two are not.
    I think this is an excellent post…there are so many misconceptions regarding sleep and what is *normal*. I think if parents realized that nightwaking (for whatever the reason) is a part of normal childhood sleeping patterns, they would be more accepting of it.

  7. Thanks for this post, Carrie!
    I have a 5 1/2 y.o. and a 3 1/3 y.o. who are so different in their sleep habits. Between the two of them, I don’t think *I’ve* slept through a night since before I was ever pregnant! My daughter (after infancy) almost always went to bed well and once she was asleep wouldn’t leave her bed. My son, up until fairly recently, would often show up in my room in the middle of the night (several times) announcing happily, “I’m here to snuggle!” Sometimes it was worth the struggle to keep putting him back in his bed, and sometimes it wasn’t. As of now, both kids crawl in with us around 5AM, which is a tolerable hour, for a morning snuggle. I have tried getting up before they wake up and skipping the snuggle time to see if they would just sleep later in their own beds, but it was a no-go despite trying consistently for over a month. Frankly, I don’t like getting up before five, and I actually love our morning snuggles. So I figure I’ll enjoy it while I can, because before I know it, they’ll be teenagers who won’t want anything to do with me! ;)

    I would like to mention also, that my son has always had a harder time falling asleep. We have had a consistent bed time ritual for both kids since day one, but it’s still hard for him to settle his body down once in bed. I find that firm back rubs and leg rubs help a great deal. Also, LOTS of physical play OUTSIDE is key!

    Hope eveyone has a good night’s rest tonight!

  8. Just have to agree with you, Carrie, that parents should definitely rule out allergies! Not that allergies are the cause of all (or even most) sleep difficulties, but it is definitely worth looking into.

    Allergies are much more common these days (unfortunately), and even children of parents with no history of allergies are susceptible. Sometimes sleep trouble is the only obvious symptom. Even when allergies aren’t present, intolerances can be.

    I just wanted to affirm your point on this! Thanks for the post!

  9. my boy has had night terrors and nightmares on and off since he was about 1 1/2 but I think a great deal of it (in retrospect) was because he was too hot at night. A friend told me recently that children who are overly hot will nightmare and I have been watching for the nights my son does and I am sure she is right much of the time. There are of course some exceptions when he is particularly over tired (we avoid this as much as possible but there are the occasional birthday evening that causes havoc) but it is a hard one. He loves to be snuggled under blankets at going to sleep but then is way too hot when he is asleep. So I have to remember to go in and take layers off as soon as he is asleep and then add a few back later. I am such a warm freak that I think I really added to his nightmare issues by over dressing and wrapping him at night. My second is a very very average sleeper and it is a combination of excema and other irriations but we have tried food, etc and have a very whole food diet but have had no success. Just slowly walking the road and hope that we will both get to sleep through the night one day. co sleeping helps us both but especially me as I get so exhausted.
    I always say to other mothers – you don’t expect your baby to walk when they are six months or eat by themselves when they are 9 months or talk conversationally when they are 1 and so on and so on – so why in the world would you expect them to sleep like an adult before they are ready to? Is it for your convenience or theirs???
    Love a sleep post – thanks!
    ps my post on meditation when doing things you dislike came from my frustration with getting my smallest to sleep – let me know what you think…

  10. Oh my goodness. I don’t have any grand stories to share, but THANK YOU for this. My oldest will be five in September, and she has never been a GREAT sleeper. She wants to know what everyone is doing, and where they are, and will frequently come and “check” on us. It used to be an hour-long (nightly!) struggle to get her to stay in her room, but now she checks on us three times…or once…or not at all. She goes to sleep with her bedside light on, looking at books, with her door wide open so she can hear us.

    What floored my friends, when we talked about sleeping issues, though, is that my four year old still doesn’t consistently sleep through the night. Even as an infant, I would finally get her sleeping through the night…and then she would get a cold, or a new tooth, or a nightmare, and we’d be back to getting up to her cries once to three times a night.

    Now, she knows the drill. She wakes up, she opens her door (we shut off the lights and close the door after she’s asleep) and walks down the hall. She quietly comes into our room (the door wakes me up) and she stands silently next to me. I get up, hold her hand, put her back in bed, kiss her head, and go back to bed myself. That’s all she wants. It takes 30 seconds and sometimes, if I had a particularly late night, I don’t even remember it in the morning.

    However, none of my friends have dealt with this. There are no nightmares, she isn’t hungry. She’s just awake, and she wants mama to acknowledge it!

  11. Thanks so much for your wonderful wonderful blog!!

    I have been perusing the archives for posts on sleep, and one of the phrases that struck me was “parenting your child to sleep.” I agree the approaches to this will depend on the individual child, but I’m wondering if you have any posts that discuss ideas and strategies for parenting children to sleep when your child seems to resist sleeping — something to get me thinking of ways to move us forward.

    A bit of context: My daughter is 4 (almost 5). Ever since she was able to “cruise” (8 months), she has not had an easy time falling asleep. It seems to me that some of it that she has trouble “turning off her brain.” And I imagine anxiety is playing a role as well (she lost her father to cancer fairly recently, as I mentioned in a previous comment). Both kids know they are more than welcome to sleep in my bed, and she sometimes does end up there but not always. I have tried rubbing her back and singing to her, but often she is not ready (it’s almost as if her body has to be settled already for her to want/respond to this). I’ve tried lullabies and even calming/meditative books on CD. She is already reading and will read quietly even after “lights out” (she pushes the curtains back and reads by the light of the street lamp outside her window). I think this helps calm her, but it is not sleep and her body needs sleep.

    • Thank you Grateful! I am so glad you are here, and my deepest sympathies on the loss of your husband. I can only imagine how difficult this must be.
      I wonder if for a bit you could take the pressure off of sleeping — if she stays in bed, could you knit or fold laundry or something repetitve like that in her room by a candle? You could tell her a small repetitive story that you make up and then fold or knit and hum a lullaby. Very sleepy storytelling, very different than daytime storytelling.
      I also wonder if the bedtime routine is too long, if you give her a bath at night and if the bath actually needs to be in the morning instead if that ramps her up, if there is something sensory going on (seams, fabric of her nightgown or sheets), how visually minimal her room is (less stuff equals better sleep). I also wonder if you are missing her sleep window. If she no longer naps and is busy working and in nature all day, she may be ready to wind down as early as 6:30.
      I also wonder after all this if she would benefit being supported homeopathically by a qualified practitioner. I am a big user of homeopathic medicines and flower essences and that sort of things when something is really off with my children — I don’t know if this is in your budget, but I wonder if that could be helpful.
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  12. Thank you for your sympathies, and thank you for your fabulous suggestions. They are incredibly helpful.

    I am so glad I discovered this blog! I love your approach.

    Warmly,
    Grateful

    • And Grateful, look for a post on this because at least in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the season for sleeping trouble with the longer days…
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

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  15. I just found this blog, but have found it extremely helpful to know I am not the only one that has sleeping problems with their child. My son is about to turn 5 and since his 3rd birthday I think I can count on one hand how many times he has slept the entire night in is bed. As a baby he slept perfectly and would sleep 12-15 hours plus naps. As soon as I put him in a toddler bed he started to wake up and come in. I tried the whole stay strong routine of waking up and putting him back in bed without saying anything, etc, etc. But he would continue to wake up and come in and wake me up sometimes every 30 minutes to an hour. I was so tired all the time I had no patience, and no energy to do anything. My son was tired throughout the day and tantrums began to pick up. So I just gave up and have been allowing him to sleep in my bed when he gets up. I always put him to sleep in his bed, but I know between midnight and 2am he will be coming in. And honestly I wouldn’t care but he always has to have his feet under my legs and he is a mover and constantly kicking and tossing around which wakes me up, and I feel like he doesn’t get as good as sleep as he should. Some days he wakes up so cranky and he is normally exhausted by 3 but refuses to take a nap, and then by 6 he gets that last bit of energy and is jumping off the walls and not listening and super hyper. Of course i am exhausted by this point and can feel my patience thinning. I just want both of us to be able to get good sleep at night and be rested for the whole day. What time should my soon to be 5 year old be going to bed? (gets up at 7 or 7:30 for school) And how many hours should he be getting? Is there anything I can do to keep him in his bed, and will this phase ever go away? I really don’t want a 12 yr old sleeping in my bed. Please help, I am desperate. I almost took my son to a sleep expert to monitor him and help me discover why he wakes up EVERY night!!!!

    • Dear Jennifer,
      I am sorry you are experiencing all that. I find many cosleeping children do not seem to sleep through the night consistently in their own beds without coming in until around 8 or 9, just from talking with families. I am no medical sleep expert! Does your son have allergies or issues with breathing at all? I have talked to many parents who said reflux, allergies, large adenoids where the child could not breathe well were all culprits in their child’s waking. Many five year olds who don’t nap are poised for an early bedtime of 6:30 or 7.

      I think speaking with your pediatrician to rule out any medical causes is important. Looking at overall diet, rhythm of the home, amount of time outside and amount of time spent looking at screens can also all provide helpful clues.

      If you truly think it is something behavioral, some parents have had luck with making their child a little nest (sleeping bag, cot, nest of blankets, futon in room or placing all mattresses on the floor and placing, for example, a single mattress next to their king mattress) and seeing if the baby bird who has gotten a little big can sleep in their own nest near the mommy bird but not in the same nest. :)

      I am happy you are here!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

    • So I have a question!!! In your post I see where your lo wants to have his feet under you when he sleeps. MY TODDLER IS DOING THE SAME THING!!! He has to have his feet completely under me and he puts his hands behind his back (as if he was under arrest)! That’s the only way he can fall asleep. Do you know anything about this? I can’t find anything out about it on the internet..!

      Jamie

    • In regards to Jamie’s question – i have the same question! My toddler is 2.5 years old and falls asleep in our bed, and we move him to his bed but by 3a.m he is back in bed next to me, and he shoves his feet under me – under my legs, hips, back, etc. whatever he can!! He then winds his hands in my nightgown or shoves them under me too, usually around the armpit, arms, or even breast area of my chest. Is this a strange comfort technique? Should I discourage? Why does he do this? Mostly it’s not a problem, but I am curious if you have any knowledge on this.

      Glad I stumbled across your blog!

    • Hi Candace,
      I don’t think that is uncommon behavior at all. Two and a half is very, very little. Warmth and security at night really is a want and a need at that tiny age. The feet are something I hear about from nearly all co-sleeping parents. If you don’t like his hands, some co-sleeping mothers have used a nightgown or pajamas that are harder to get “under” or even encourage a small stuffed toy they can wrap their hands around instead.
      Many blessings! Glad you are here!
      Carrie

  16. My four year old daughter has her days and nights mixed up. She has slept with me since birth. I don’t have a problem with the co-slumber. She wants to watch television all night long and she will stay awake until 4am-7am and then sleep until 4pm-5pm. I am conserned about her because she will be starting school next year. if this sleeping pattern doesn’t change i will have to home school her. the problem I have is that she isn’t quietly watching television she wakes me up wanting me to stay up with her. she follows me to the bathroom and at times is glued to me during her awake times. if we turn the television off and tell her to go to sleep she crys so hard that she pukes and has an asthma attack. Me and my husband are sleepy and at our wits end. what do we do?

    • Rebecca,
      I truly feel for your situation and wish I could offer more via Internet, but I believe based upon your situation, the best answer is to consult your pediatrician and health care team in person. They may refer you all on to a sleep team, and the sleep team may have a psychologist who could help you deal with some of the behavioral aspects of this situation. I have to say this is an unusual situation, and one again, I feel would be best addressed by a real life, in person consultation by a health care team. There is a psychological and behavioral component, in addition to the physiological aspects of sleep. One thing that may be helpful is to get out during the daytime and get more general movement and exercise in, but even that may need to be approached carefully and in stages according to what your health care team says. I don’t know where you are located, but I know James Mckenna has a wonderful sleep lab (U of Notre Dame). Boundaries are very important in child-rearing, and I think a team approach may help your family best. Thank you for writing into me, and I hope you find other posts that are helpful to you on this site.

      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  17. Hi, I have found this site really helpful as I have a four year old who has never really been a good sleeper despite having a consistent bedtime routine. However it is getting worse, He is afraid of everything and anything even during the day. although he falls asleep with no argument (providing I sit near him for 10 mins or so) he wakes lots overnight. My big problem is he doesn’t vocalise why he has woken and what the problem is! It’s very easy to think he is messing me around and playing up which is causing arguments overnight, however I’m now not sure this is the case! I am considering letting him come into bed with us when he wakes, however, this is something that I have always been told is a complete ‘no no’. I would love some advise on how once I have started letting him stay in our bed I will actually get him back to his own bed in the future?? To make it all the more complicated I have a newborn currently in the bedroom with us. Any advise on how I can make co-sleeping successful and ensure that I will be able to make the transition back would be much appreciated as we are all exhausted especially my little boy, it is beginning to impact on his behaviour and he can be very naughty. Thanks x

    • Hi Lucy.. I just found this site and wanted to reply to your message. We have a 4 year old and a 7 month old. He don’t understand either why she gets to sleep in our room and he cant. We got him out of sleepin in our bed around 2 years old and up until we had our youngest little girl he started sneaking in our room in the middle of the night. When we move her to her crib, which is gonna be VERY soon, we are going to work with him again to maybe not want to sleep in there. He does try to sleep in there every night, i just explain to him that he did same thing when he was a baby and he started sleepin on his own. It took a while but he finally acted as if he understood. I see it’s been hard on you!! Hope it gets better for you soon. I have recently been told that a child sleeping with you is a good thing because he/she will always feel safe and when there older they will get old enough to understand why they cant sleep in our room anymore. We have never heard that before at all. Always been told like you its a ‘big NO NO!’ When we had to get him out of sleeping in our bed at 2 years old, it took about a week but he cried for a while every night and I hated it but it worked after about 8-9 days and he started sleeping every night in his bed. GOOD LUCK!!!

  18. Our 4 year old son wakes up every day and night when he goes to sleep after about 20-45 minutes crying. 90% of the time he is crying saying “I want you mommy.” or he thinks someone else is here that might have been here a while before he even went to sleep but left. Then he will ask what there doing over there, pointing over to the opposite side of room. He has always came in our bedroom in the middle of the night with me and my husband. Let me also say I am his stepmom.. I have been in his life since he was about 8 months old. His mom left him and has had little to do with him since. She just recently got temporary custody back about 3 months ago every other wknd and every wed night. He is having a hard time because she is filling his head with a bunch of lies trying to get him against me and his daddy. He is very scared around her and expresses a lot of anger around her when she comes to get him as well. He has always called me mommy since i’ve been around. I just feel so bad for him because we are going through so many changes in his behavior and mental state because of all the issues he’s being surrounded by now that she’s back in his life. I just want to know if there’s anything we can do to settle him down when he wakes up like this or some advice on what to do?? Me and my husband always assure him we love him and right beside him but it takes him a minute then he don’t want us to leave once he gets back to his normal state.

  19. Hello, I’m glad I’m not he only one going through this and grateful there are plenty of solutions I find quite useful. I have a 4 year old boy who will be 5 next May, he went through the crib-bed changing process without any problems, I never let him sleep on my bed unless his daddy was working late. He has been a good sleeper and I must say its just like this father, they both are able to sleep easily (sooo jealous). Usually he goes to sleep by 9pm while watching some cartoons next to me therefore I bring him to his bed afterwards (I have been doing that for a very long time without problems) until about a month now, he just started JK this past September and the first month he slept through the night but now he usually wakes up sometimes around 2,4am,he just calls me and he wants me to lie down with him until he falls asleep; sometimes I’ve noticed he falls asleep quick and there are other times when I’m about to leave his room and he calls me again, for example last night he called me around 5am so I went to his bed and lied with him and he didn’t fully sleep until the time he had to get up for school.
    I have talked to him about him having nightmares, he has mentioned about ghosts and I have told him that ghosts left the house already and even when i ask him again why he wakes up he just avoids the question. I’m wondering if he might have some anxiety because of school because i have observed him and he doesnt seem to be distant, quiet or just playing on his own, he acts ilke always, asking me to help him read his books, watching his shows, etc.
    I will start leaving the night light on and train him on going to the toliet at night if he needs to but I hope its just a stage.

    • Dora, How much physical activity is he getting after school? That can really be a deal breaker for many five year old little boys.
      Also, some children’s sleep becomes affected by media time, so you may consider limiting his screen time in favor for physical activity and see if that helps.
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

    • My son would always wake up at 11 and 2 be used he Celt the urge to go to the bathroom. I just ignored him and he would go back to sleep. I tried to get him up go go but he would argue half asleep. It stopped when he was completely night trained.

  20. I have a five year old son. He has always been an excessive sleeper. 10 hours a night with a 4 hour nap. If you tried to wake him up he would scream for 10 minutes. He was having issues in preschool. His Dr. Diagnosed him with sleep apnea. His tonsils and adnoides were removed. He slept better and gained 15 lbs in 3 months. Now in kindergarten he is having different issues they have diagnosed him with adhd . I see the behavior they are con earned about but I also see him crashing 3 hours after school. He will sleep 14 hours a night now. Could his hyperactivity and concentration be contributed to a sleep inbalance and not ADHD.

  21. I have 2 4 year old twins that get up every night from 12 to 3 and get onto everything in the kitchen and if they can’t get stuff then it’s whatever they can..any ideas why our how to make out stop?

    • Dear Monica,
      Yes!
      1. Make sure they have had a physical exam to rule out anything physical as to why they would be waking for such a prolonged period.
      2. Check their diet — no sugar, no processed foods.
      3. How much physical exercise are they getting? They should be tired at night, and many four year olds need two to four hours or more of outside time and no to very little time in front of a computer, screen, etc.
      4. Are they going for food or just to make a mess? You may need to put a lock on the refrigerator, a gate on the kitchen or their bedroom.
      5. Can they sleep in your room or you sleep in their room so you can catch them right as they wake up and are headed out the bedroom door?
      6. Are they still napping? It may be time to give up naps if they are waking up at such a time in the night.

      Just a few thoughts, please do speak with your physician.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  22. My child is eight and started having real trouble getting to sleep after previously being fine due to fears of noises Etc. I cracked her going in her own bed by reading stories and putting on stories audio CDs for her to go to sleep to with regular checks by me. But for the last month I have woke every morning to fine her in my bed. She doesn’t wake me so I can’t take her back to her room when she does it. I am a single parent so it doesn’t cause any issues with the bed. I am out of ideas what to do. Any suggestions.

    • Julie,
      You probably won’t like my answer, but I would just let it be. Eight can often be on the verge of the nine year change in which a child is developmentally awakening and seeing the world in a more individual manner than ever. It can be a real fragile and shaky time. I suggest reading the posts on the nine year old from the Development tab in the header box on this blog and see if any of that resonates.

      Blessings!
      Carrie

  23. Hi carrie

    I have a 4 year old, who has always slept well and gone to bed when told, lately she doesn’t want o sleep in her bed as she has bad dreams. I’m confused

    Regards linda

    • Linda,
      Has she had any major changes lately in her routine, what she does during the day? Four year olds also need quite a bit of physical movement, is she really running, moving, swimming?

      Blessings,Carrie

  24. So my daughter turned 8 in april and for about two months now shes been getting up at night saying she is itchy she has nightmares but cant tell me what there about she gets frustrated cause she isnt sleeping shes cranky through the day i assume lack of sleep its frustrating cause do i let her sleep with me how doni handle this she has always slept alone pit herself to sleep i mean id tuck her in but never had issues with sleep till now

  25. Pingback: Normal Stages Of Sleep For The Child Ages 8-12 | The Parenting Passageway

  26. I’d love some discussion on bed wetting (urinating at night) because my almost 7 year old doesn’t wake up to pee. I had her in pullups until this summer and now the routine involves me getting her up to go pee and I’m thinking about trying to set a timer so she can get up without my help. She doesn’t want to use the expensive alarm that has a sensor worn in the underwear because the noise that the thing makes sounds too loud and annoying like police siren. I’m hoping that if I just keep at it, maybe over several months and especially when school starts in the fall she will get into more routines and begin to wake up to go pee on her own. But, if she is sleeping so deeply as to not wake up (my sister had this same issue for which a pill was prescribed) will any of my efforts ever pay off? Or will she just have to be “manually” awakened. Does anyone have info about the sleep cycles during the night and when are the best times to be waking her up to pee?

    • Rachel,
      I don’t know how you feel about homeopathy or cranial sacral work, but I have heard of mothers with older children who wet their beds who had success in going those routes.
      Hope other mothers will chime in here!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

    • I had troubles with my son not getting up to go to the bathroom, I limited how much he could drink before bed and after he brushes he teeth he goes to the bathroom, then bed. Sure enough if he does not go before bed he wets the bed.

  27. I have a six year old son who gets up a few times a night talking about he scared a month ago he said he was seeing a woman now he still gets up at night but says he is not scraed but screams mom i need you help what do i do thanks

    • Carmen,
      All you can do is the basics = make sure he has a low or no amount of screen time, whole foods with low sugar, lots of outside activity, keep to a steady calming bedtime routine and comfort him when he has the nightmares. It is phase, it will get better.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  28. I have a four year old son, we do not watch scary movies, and he sticks to the same routine eight O’clock bath, nine bed. After his bath he gets “rest time” he gets to watch magic school bus and have a small snack. We eat dinner as a family, and both parents tuck him in. He has nightmares almost every night and is afraid to sleep alone, I have gone as far as buying him tons of new security items, using a dream catcher, trying to talk about dreams, to my newest idea, a stuffed animal that use to have a heat pack, we write what he would like to dream about talk about it for a little then he hugs it tight. It is still no help, I will admit he is very smart for his age to the point of knowing what is real and what is not, he will point out why it is not real, but nightmares are not something we can shake. The longest he has slept alone with out issues, is five days. Any Ideas? Suggestions?
    Samantha

    • Samantha,
      I think that is pretty normal for that age. I know that is probably not what you want to hear, but I do think it will pass…Four is really little. I would say one thing to try is to replace the TV time with reading a slow, repetitious story like Henny Penny, the Three Bears, or a small nature tale that is gentle and sweet…Some children seem to have disturbed sleep patterns with TV before bed. I have several articles on this site about media and small children if you are interested in those.

      Just know you are not alone!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  29. My 5 and a half year old has only slept through the night a handful of times. Me and my husband are very tired and frustrated. He wakes up anything from 1-4 times a night. Sometimes it’s for a drink of water or need to use the toilet and other times there is no reason. We just lead him back to his bed but if it occurs from 6am we accept him in our bed. We read books for him to fall asleep. We have tried a dark room, night light, door open, door shut, reward chart and nothing seems to help. If there is a adult sleeping in his room he still wakes up but less often. What else can we try?

    • Nilou – This is a back post on bedtime, but has a lot of links toward the bottom that could be helpful: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/05/29/struggling-at-bedtime/
      Some children really don’t sleep well through the night until age 9 or so, but I wondered if you had discussed this with your pediatrician. Sometimes there are food allergies or other medical issues going on, so I always think that is the first place to start.
      Hope things improve,
      Carrie

  30. We were in a bad car accident back in Aug. of 2012. My husband, myself and my then 7 year old were hurt. Long story short a young driver cut us off being negligent. My then 7 year old daughter received a nasty facial laceration from across the top of the eye across the forehead to the other other eye. She was stitched up (unfortunately by an ER doc) and then in May 2013 had her first scar revision. The scar revision didn’t work well because at her age the skins goes into overload in healing and the scar is thick. She has to have another scar revision around age 16 or 17 when growing is done. She started to experience night terrors soon after the accident, sometimes waking 3 or 4 times a night screaming for me. Since then she had another episode when she was about 5, she was disoriented and had the shakes really bad. It scared me because I could see her trembling/shaking. I finally got her calmed down and put her to bed. I called her Ped. and they told me that it was a type of night terror and that they cause anxiety. Well now for the past month (she is now just 9) she has been falling asleep looking exhausted on the couch etc. or even in her own bed sometimes. I hate to admit it but we have three playing softball right now and no help from family, so they kids are up late and eating later than I would like them too. This particular child looses her appetite and I have to help her eat. Anyway, she has been waking up on and off only once a night,( usually right after she lays her head on her pillow to sleep), a little disoriented, telling me how she feels shaky, but still talking to me with the shakes and says she feels kind of yucky and she says she feels worried which makes her heart race a little because she is clearly upset. She doesn’t freak out or scream she just seems worried and really tired. She said that she has anxiety because she is afraid that it will lead to throwing up which she absolutely hates, not many of us like it, but she is terrified about throwing up. She is rarely sick, extremely rarely, and these episodes never lead to throwing up. It’s not every night and maybe this has happened twice or three times in the last two weeks. Last night (about 9:30 pm) she yelled for me in her bed and said she was shaking a little, I am not sure if she had fallen asleep yet and she can’t remember. She came in my bed and the shaking slowly stopped and she was so tired, her eyes show her tiredness so well. Last night her shakiness wasn’t that bad. She got up this morning just fine, but said she was tired of feeling like that at night. She never does this during the day, it’s always in this tired state at night, where she can’t remember if she fell asleep or coming up the stairs to brush her teeth, but she remembers bits and pieces. Her Ped wants me to watch this and maybe do blood work. I really feel it’s strange that it’s only at night when she is dead tired and arouses from sleep quickly for some reason. I have one daughter just diagnosed with seizures after suddenly having a grand mal. She is on meds and doing fine now. I really don’t think I want to subject this child to a bunch of tests. This is only happening in the sleep state. Help.

    • Hi Lori,
      I am so sorry for your accident and your daughter’s sleeping challenges. That sounds stressful indeed. I am glad you are working with your pediatrician because this was this first thing I was wondering -what did your family physician or pediatrician have to say about this? Do you think this is related to the accident and coming out as anxiety or post traumatic stress from the accident? Did she have a concussion from the accident? Has she had any care from a medical professional who specializes in anxiety? Your description of shakiness also made me wonder if she has had a physical exam lately checking simple things like blood sugars.
      It may help to keep a log as well – what did she eat, how much water she drank, what time did she go to bed, how many hours she slept, how she seemed when she woke up.
      If you do think this is seizure related, you really do have to have it checked out by a health care professional Even if these are small seizures, they are still damaging and since seizure disorder runs in the family, that would be a logical thing to rule out.
      The other route I could think of was seeing a chiropractor who could do chiropractic adjustments and perhaps also some craniosacral work. Sometimes these treatments are covered by insurance and sometimes not, so I don’t know if that is feasible or not.
      I think one thing that could help is having a very set routine to bedtime. After dinner, there is a bath in Epsom salts (available in any drugstore). There could be a soothing warm drink – some parents do an herbal tea or a milk with honey in it, a soothing bedtime story and someone lays down with her. It sounds like she just needs some extra support right now getting ready for bed and transitioning into sleep – no matter what is really going on physically that could be causing it, which only a physician can diagnose and treat.
      Is she playing softball as well? Do you think she is drinking enough during the practice and games and before she goes to bed? That could be another piece and a log would help determine that.
      One book geared toward younger children but has great ideas for bedtime is “The 7 o’clock bedtime”. You may want to hunt for that at your local library or used. I think it could be a read to give you ideas.
      A solid routine, a really tight bedtime and you being present with her as she falls asleep, a regular wake up time should really help you determine what is going on…
      Please let me know how things go. I will be thinking of you all.
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  31. I wish I could edit my post. I meant to say my daughter had an episode when she was 5 (even before the accident) when she woke up once with the shakes and disoriented.

  32. June 29 2014, my daughter well be 8 year’s old on December 14th and she Wake up in the middle of the night to raid the frige and I’m worried this can be a problem in latter year’s what can I do my name is jessica

    • Dear Jessica,
      I agree with you that this is problematic. Is she eating whole, healthy foods during the day? Drinking enough? WHat does your family physician or pediatrician say? I would start with a good health check up at the pediatrician, talk about food choices and how much and what foods your daughter is eating (keep a food journal where you write down everything she eats for three days), and discuss that with your pediatrician. I would also offer a healthy snack right before bed – warm milk with honey, a banana, a piece of toast or something that fits into your family’s dietary choices.
      Hope that helps! Thank you for being here,
      Carrie

  33. My 20 month old grandson asks us to go to bed when he is tired at night – nanny night night now, he asks for his bath, brings his pyjamas, has a cuddle and lies in his cot and goes straight to sleep, waking up,at 7 the following morning is that normal?

    • Dear Jules,
      If in doubt, talk to your family physician or pediatrician. Some children are just good sleepers!
      Blessings
      Carrie

  34. My daughter nine year old today said to me” that for some time (may be for few months) she is experiencing strange thoughts. The feeling she said is not good and worse than a nauseating feeling. The strange feeling will come and instantly go away, the feeling stays only for a few seconds. I asked her to describe in more detail. she said that it is very difficult to describe but said further that once she felt that she imagined a big green field and man with covered face walking over it. Then the feeling moved away.
    I think that this could be nothing as a lot of things go through a childs mind everyday. such as schools, books, homework etc etc. its her imagination and would go away as time passes. My elder daughter also said similar things few times when she was 8 year old.
    did anybody experience anything like this?? would appreciate any information from your side.

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