The Only Thing I Want to See at 5 am is the Inside of my Eyelids

Things I Have Tried To Get My Three Year Old To Sleep Later:

Shortened naps

Dropping naps

Feeding him more before bed

Feeding him less before bed

Letting him stay up later

Putting him to bed earlier

Telling him he can’t get up until the sun is up (but the damn sun comes up at 5:30)

Blackout shades

Doing LOTS AND LOTS of walking, playing, and running all day so he can barely keep his eyes open by 5 pm

….and right now as I type this he is totally passed out on the couch. It’s 11:50am. I heard from a couple people on Twitter that melatonin supplements can help with wacky sleep schedules but Dr. Google is split about 50-50 on whether or not that’s a good idea (WebMD votes no, LiveStrong and MayoClinic vote yes with caution). I should talk to the pediatrician before trying it, but I feel like an idiot calling and saying “I’m not disciplined to go to bed before midnight so I’m REALLY TIRED when my kid wakes up at 5 so how about them pills?”

But like any parent will tell you, having a kid who isn’t getting enough sleep is way more than just being a tired parent. He’s grumpy and emotional and irritable and has trouble controlling his impulses and can’t make up his mind so he refuses thing he actually wants and then cries because he doesn’t have them.

I feel sort of like a jerk complaining at all since on the scale of sleep problems this is not actually that bad. Even on his WORST nights he only gets up once or twice to ask for a drink and goes right back to bed. It’s the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep enough days in a row that’s driving me bonkers.

Here’s my idea: everyone say “IT’S JUST A PHASE”. Because, yeah, but it will make me feel better.

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22 Responses to “The Only Thing I Want to See at 5 am is the Inside of my Eyelids”

  1. Lola says:

    Yes it is just a phase, it will pas before you know ti and not you don’t need pills. :-)
    My daughter will be 4 this August and we had exactly the same phase some months ago but now she returned to the 8 AM mornings. She sleeps 8 to 8 and she does not wake at night anymore. If she is not awaken by the night terrors I mean. They continue still but fewer events…we had just one short occurrence this month.

  2. Carmen says:

    We were having a similar problem with our 2.5 year old waking up at 5am, and yes, it’s the crankiness that was KILLING me. I can deal with being up early, but the bags under his eyes and his constant whining was wearing us down. We got this wake-up clock a week ago:

    It’s been amazing. We set it to go green at 6am, and he totally gets it. He’s not necessarily sleeping until then, but he stays IN HIS BED, and i think that’s already more restful. We moved it last night at 6:15am and he was quiet in bed until then. Maybe it’d work for Evan?

  3. Leah says:

    Hey, as long as you don’t accidentally tell him he’s going to die someday while tucking him in you are probably doing pretty well. So I hear.

  4. Have you tried MORE nap time during the day? It sounds crazy, but I’ve read in various places that sometimes it can help if he is willing to nap more.

  5. merin says:

    Amen sister. I just keep telling myself that this too shall pass…probably when they are 18.

  6. Animom says:

    I have no daughter just turned 3 and has never slept through the night. She usually wakes up a couple of times and needs a pat to go back to sleep. I’ve tried not doing that but it escalates into a screaming fit which wakes her even more.

    I hear you..hugs.

    • bebehblog says:

      And THAT is why I feel like a jerk for complaining at all – it took time but both kids have been pretty good sleepers for the past few months. I hope your daughter sleeps through the night soon!

      • merin says:

        You are not the only one Animom. My three year old has never slept through the night either and does the same behavior. It is SO frustrating. I feel like I have done all the wrong things, but my husband is also a terrible sleeper, so when I start to feel bad about my night time parenting, I just throw some blame his way :) Good luck to you!

      • Animom says:

        I didn’t mean to imply I have it worse than you. Please do complain and thanks for giving me an opportunity to do the same. My comment meant to convey, there’s a boat named Shitty Sleep and we are both on it!
        I do keep trying different things, our plan this weekend is to start trying this rewards chart:

        She’s also a little bit afraid of the dark, so a brighter-than-a-nightlight light and this chart. And coffee, for us.

        Wish us luck!

  7. Carrie says:

    We’re going through that right now with our (almost) three year old… the not getting up till the sun comes out thing worked wonders until it became summertime. Now every morning I hear her little voice yell “Mommy, wake up! It’s not dark out anymore!” at 6am. Except for this morning, when I had to wake her up to take her to daycare and I got lots of whining and, “But I’m still sleeeeeepy, Mommy!” Which, coincidentally, was my exact thought when she woke me up at 6am on Memorial Day (but try explaining THAT to a preschooler).

    I’m a little disappointed to hear the blackout shades didn’t work. That alarm clock idea sounds worth a try.

  8. Brigid Keely says:

    Unless there is something unusual going on (illness, nap/sleep disruptions) my kid is just an early riser. He generally wakes up around 6:00-6:30. “I’m awake now! It’s MORNING TIME! It’s time to be awake!” His dad is an early riser as well. I… am not. At all. Even a little bit. So it’s kind of hell for me, especially as I work until midnight and often don’t get home and in bed until after 1:00 or later. HOWEVER, Niko is also a fairly reliable napper (assuming he’s at home), and is usually down in bed around 12:30 for at least 3 hours and sometimes more. In other words, he wakes up slightly later than Evan and goes down for a nap slightly after Evan fell asleep. So maybe Evan’s just on an early schedule, which includes an early nap? If this is true, that he’s just an early bird, it will serve him well when he HAS TO get up for school, work, etc.

  9. Jeni says:

    Ugh, yep, my almost three year old used to think that 5-5:30 was the perfect time to wake up. EVERY MORNING. When he was about two and a half it just changed. He slept in one morning until 6, then 6:30. Now I can depend on him to sleep until almost 7, which is sad just how heavenly that is but it’s true. So, hope it’s just a phase :).

  10. It is just a phase (because you said so, not b/c I agree.) I believe sleep times are based on habits. Kids need a certain amount of sleep hours per day. I think how they get them is based on the habits we build for them. Saying that, habits are powerful hard to break things. Especially long term habits.

    With Elena, I moved her bedtime back (to 9pm) and left it that way – forever – because that is what I wanted. Momma doesnt do mornings. She had problems with it at first. Her internal clock wasnt set for that. We started a snack before bed to rule out I am hungry waking. I let her nap as much as she wanted in the day, but no going to bed early. After about a week she started sleeping 9p to 9am, instead of 7p to 7am.

    I did this at about 8 months but have messed with her bedtime several times depending on my work schedule. At a year, we do no in the middle of the night get ups unless she is hysterical crying (which is very rare) or sick. She isnt a baby. Physically she can sleep through the night for 12 hours. She has to learn to manage hunger. As a toddler she eats 3 meals a day and one snack, we arent nursing every 3 hours anymore. She eats table food, exactly what we eat for dinner. Learning to sleep upon an imposed schedule and manage hunger is a learned skill she will need for school. I read Bringing Up Bebe and it just underscored what I already believe. The french start this at a much younger age than Elena is. I dont think a parent’s need for sleep is unreasonable or selfish. I think a toddlers desire to sleep on its own schedule is selfish. It is apart of a family and the family has needs. Everyone in the family has a right to the quantity of sleep their body needs. This being said, its a very PERSONAL decision how you raise your children and I trust you to know yourself and your children well enough to make the best decisions for your family. If you ask your Dr and she says the pills are safe and that works for you, I support you 800%. I know my views arent popular, but my daughter is very happy. I get my 7-8 hours of sleep (typically around Midnight to 7-8am). And my family is better for it.

    Babycenter list sleep reqs by age at My odd kid has always needed more. She gets 12 hrs at night and one 3-4 hour nap in the afternoon. She sets her nap schedule for the most part but it is flexible in case we have obligations that intersect normal nap time.

  11. Amanda says:

    I do not like the mornings but alas I have two children that detest sleep and are ALWAYS up by 7am if not earlier. We tried everything with Madison but the later we put her bedtime the crankier she was and she was still getting up early so here it is 7pm and both of the kiddos are in bed. On the bright side Brandon and I have lots of adult time in the evenings and we have a crap ton of time during the day to get things done. And drink coffee. Another bonus? Getting Madison up for school in the morning is a nonissue. She is up and dressed before my alarm even goes off.

  12. I’ve accepted that kids just don’t sleep normally until 4-5years of age. I can tolerate screwed up sleep patterns better than most though lol!

  13. Miranda says:

    Joshua’s never been a particularly fantastic sleeper. He inherited my inability to fall asleep quickly AND his father’s penchant for waking up early. So we start bedtime at 7:30 and he’s sometimes not asleep until 9:00 because he’s decompressing in his room for an hour. Then he’s up at 5:00 or 6:00 and I’m all “YOU JUST WENT TO SLEEP!!!!”

    I tried melatonin with him last summer. Sundown Naturals makes a liquid form. It didn’t hurt him, but I don’t know that it helped him either. However, I read AFTER I’d stopped giving it to him that the best time to give it is an hour or two before bed instead of right before like I’d been dosing him. I say give it a shot.

  14. raincheckmom says:

    It’s a phase, but you should probably force yourself to go to bed earlier so you are not so sleep deprived.

    Not to be discouraging but when you came along I only got consistently good sleep once your brother turned 5. Obviously we all survived.

    And when he is a teenager you will have to pry him from his bed to get to school on time…

  15. Erin says:

    I have no advice or comments. This sounds really not fun. I have been known to let Reid crawl into our bed and watch cartoons while I snooze on mornings that come too early after I’ve been up late working and didn’t bargain for that little sleep. I think you are doing everything right and I agree that it’s probably just a phase. Hopefully a short phase.

  16. Erin says:

    I also see this every time I get a One Step Ahead catalog and always think it looks like a good idea. Just another version on the kind of clock somebody else mentioned already.

  17. Meagan says:

    Well, I think a 5:00AM wake-up is kind of a big deal sleep issue, but my 3 yr old sleeps through the night from 9pm – 7am so….but he NEVER naps. Like he won’t even fall asleep in the car.

    I too have heard really good things about the clock that changes colors. I think it’s insanely expensive because it’s a CLOCK but if it works it would be totally worth it.

  18. Julie S. says:

    Brayden didn’t start that stuff until after Kenley was born…but sometimes he just gets up randomly, which is whatever I guess. When he doesn’t take naps for a couple days and isn’t sleeping well, I put him on the melatonin for a week and he pretty much straightens out again. Of course, under pediatrician recommendations. Because he gets a major case of attitude and the grumpys if he doesn’t get enough sleep. And it’s a vicious cycle.

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