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6 Year Old Wakes Up Between 4 & 5:30am EVERY DAY - Normal?

by Kelly


My 6 year old son is a very bright and active child. However, he has struggled with sleep since he was an infant, and now at the age of 6, he still wakes up every night, typically between 4:00am and 5:30am. When he wakes up, he cannot fall back asleep by himself. Is this something we should investigate further, or is this normal?

During his infant/toddler years, it would take us anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to put our son to bed; he just would not fall asleep. Once he was finally asleep, he would wake up in the very early hours of the morning. As he's matured through preschool and now elementary school, he still struggles to fall asleep (usually a 1 - 1 1/2 hour process nightly), and he still wakes up in the very early hours of the morning. He is not fully rested at 4 or 5am; he is very tired, and needs to go back to sleep - but he cannot do so on his own.

We have heard our son snore occasionally (a few times a night), but it is not so chronic that he rattles the windows all night. He does not have night terrors, rarely talks in his sleep, and has only once or twice woken up complaining of having a nightmare.

In addition to the sleep concerns, our son is having difficulty paying attention and focusing at school; and he especially struggles with self control issues such as not talking loudly, tipping his chair back repeatedly, not sitting quietly during circle time, etc. We are concerned that his school is beginning to label him as ADHD, yet we are questioning whether there could possibly be some correlation with his sleep situation (or something else)?

If this
were your son, would you investigate further - and if so - how? What specific testing would you request from your pediatrician?

Thank you.

Kevin's Thoughts

Hey Kelly,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions about your son. Without being able to go into a lot of detail about specifics, I would say that if you're concerned about his sleep affecting his attention and behavior in school and throughout the day then it is definitely worth investigating further. Browsing the literature on the subject of childhood sleep, if you haven't already done so, may turn up some useful insights, tips, and stories that will better equip you. Additionally, if you think your son's lack of sleep is disruptive enough to warrant a trip to a professional, seeing a good sleep specialist may prove very helpful as well.

It's a very astute and important observation you make about the sleep concerns possibly being connected with the ability to focus and perform at school. There are definitely many cases where the ADHD label gets used unnecessarily for a child who's behavior is a result of sleep deprivation. In fact, it's a connection we make on this site and one made by Dr. Rafael Pelayo, one of the top childhood sleep specialists around. You can see that connection being made here.

I know I haven't been particularly illuminating here with anything you haven't heard, but it's hard to be real confident with any advice that's more specific. Many children grow out of difficulties sleeping, while others require a bit more special attention and effort. If you are concerned I would continue to educate yourself on the various scenarios and possibly go in for a polysomnogram (sleep study) to see if any abnormalities come up. Best wishes to you and your son.


Comments for 6 Year Old Wakes Up Between 4 & 5:30am EVERY DAY - Normal?

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Jun 20, 2014
Similar story NEW
by: Jamie

Your story is almost exact to ours. Our son just turned 7. I have always been concerned about his sleep. It is especially difficult for us because of being a military family and constantly moving, we are currently in a location where the sun comes up at 7am and doesn't go down till 11-11:30 at night half the year! My son wakes at 7am daily no matter what! We give melatonin at night to help him sleep but with the sun still bright and high in the sky he fights sleep. Sometimes fighting until 1 or 2 am but still waking at 7. The effects at school are that by about noon he gets extremely fidgety, won't sit still during circle time, always has to play with something whether a pencil, his chair, his shoes, something! And also with the loud talking! At home it is the constant loud talking, bad attitude, almost like a lack of self control. I am honestly at my wits end. I do not know what else to do. We have been using the melatonin per the pediatrician but no one is willing to do a sleep study or assist us :(

Sep 03, 2015
Similar Situation for our daughter NEW
by: Chibetin

My daughter is in the same situation. She struggles to go to bed early and it is only now until she started school that she is trying to go to bed on time. The sun does go down late where I live as well. I had to purchase black out curtains and I bring them down to darken the room right before 8pm. This really helped to get her to go to sleep on time. My concern is that she still gets up as early as 4:45 some times even if she had a very active day the day before.

It is possible you have a very full of energy spirited kid who simply would rather be active than sleep any time. One thing that worked for me was to tell my daughter she would have to take long naps during the day if she didn't sleep well during the night to compensate. So she strives to sleep through the night in order to ensure she gets more playtime during the day.

Jul 09, 2016
4_530am NEW
by: Anonymous

My 5 year old wakes up between 4 and 5:30 a.m. everyday no matter what time he goes about that he gets a tons of playtime outside time running around outside all he wants he sometimes takes a nap throughout the day if so about an hour and a half to two hours no matter what time he goes to bed at he still wakes up super early he still has trouble falling asleep so we give a melatonin to help very energetic throughout the day he doesn't use a loud voice and we do remind them in sideways doesn't always work anybody have an idea and how to make them sleep longer we do have blackout curtains and use a fan this just started being an issue in the last month and I have 3 other all the kids that I have to care for two so it's hard being up at 4 o'clock in the morning until my husband gets home from work the next day at 5 o'clock in the afternoon since my other three don't really take naps since there 6 7 and 9yrs so I don't really get it take a nap if you would wake up at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. it's go go go all day he is going to go see the doctor soon but if somebody else has any other ideas please help thank you

Jul 09, 2016
Doing much better now NEW
by: AL

Hi Jamie, I just wanted to share that using blackout curtains really helped for me. My daughter knows her bed time is always 8pm and every day I would close the curtains at 8pm and tell her a night time story. The story is something we've always done and it helps to help her body get used to the dark.

Melatonin helps, but light inevitably will reset your kids biological clock. If you're able to, make sure your son goes to the restroom before bed and there is no excuse to turn the light on after he goes to bed.

My daughter is now used to her bed time and never misses it, she falls asleep soon after she goes to bed and this has been now going on for about a year since we bought the black out curtains and made sure she ate the right foods also. Watch out for too much sugar consumption.

Aug 03, 2016
2 Years Old Wakes Up Between 4 - 4 Everyday NEW
by: Donald

I have a 2 years old son who use to sleep well and nowadays wake up between 4 - 5am in the morning. I would like to know if this is normal for that age or should i see a doctor.

Jan 20, 2017
To Jamie NEW
by: Eva

Have you had you child assessed for ADHD? He has a lot of the behaviors of and associated with it.

Mar 31, 2019
Similar sitution
by: Pooja S.

hi Kelly - when i read your description, it felt as if i am reading about my son. He is exactly like this and we are in a very similar situation. We have even had a sleep study done but to no avail.

I am wondering if you have any updates to share? Are you still struggling with your child's sleep?

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