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My 7 Year Old Daughter Can Not Stay Asleep At Night

For years my daughter has struggled with staying asleep, which I take full responsibility for. As a single parent for her first three years I would always rub her back and constantly put her back in her bed, everyone always said it was just a phase and she will grow out of it.

Well she is now almost 8 and for the last year I can count the number of times she slept through the night on one hand. I put her to bed at a decent time but she wakes all night, it's not until I take her down stairs or in our bed that she will finally go to sleep, but only if I am there.

I realize this is a problem I have probably created, but now I am emotionally, mentally, and numb to this problem. It's so bad that I don't even fight her on it anymore, I just bring her down stairs with me. It is causing problems between my husband and I as we no longer sleep together, maybe one or two nights a week. I'm so exhausted that I have just become numb to this and worry that this is how my life will be.

I know she probably suffers from separation anxiety, but I don't know what to do. We have taken her to her pediatrician and to a psychiatrist with no avail. She states she just can't fall asleep by herself, well we know that and she can't stay asleep. We have tried everything. We've had a normal routine for years, the book, soft music, lamp/nightlight everything. We've tried different food, and melatonin. The melatonin just makes her fall asleep but does not keep her asleep. I am frustrated to no end.

I am seeking any and all help possible. I have basically been sleeping on our couch for the last year with her. If I am there she sleeps all night. When I stopped working over a year ago is when it became a huge problem. I am going back to work, but I don't see a change coming with her sleep. Please help us!

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Apr 01, 2011
Some ideas
by: Ryan

Why cant she fall asleep? Does she have too much energy, is she scared?, or is it something else?

If she has too much energy then just find an activity that she can do before bed, take her to the gym, a park, get her moving and use up all that energy.

If she cant sleep becuase she's afraid well... just put her to bed and leave her, eventualy her body will run out of energy and she will fall asleep. By going and letting her sleep with downstairs with you, you are only making her separation anxiety worse.

May 09, 2011
Check on too much sleep and activity
by: Judy

Make sure your 7-year-old is not getting too much sleep (typically 9-11 hrs) for that age. And is active enough during the day to promote being tired.

Jun 16, 2011
My 6 year old daughter can't stay asleep..
by: Anonymous

I have MUCH in common with "my 7 year old daughter can not stay asleep at night". My daughter just turned 6. She also takes melatonin at night and falls asleep fairly well but wakes up on average 3x each night - usually starting around 1am. When she wakes I immediately hear her feet hit the floor and she comes running looking for me. I put her back in bed until I am at the point of sheer exhaustion and give in (working single mom)- letting her sleep with me. She obviously gets some form of comfort by sleeping in the same bed - I wonder if it had to do with her dad leaving? Regardless, this is affecting every aspect of our lives.

If anyone has experienced this situation or one similar with a resolution, PLEASE SHARE.

Aug 07, 2011
by: Glenn

Where is the expert (DR?) opinion on this case???

My 8-yr old in the past few months has started the same behaviour of needing his Mom or Dad to lay in bed with him to get to sleep and then at around 12am running down the hall saying he can't get back to bed on his own, I lay with him for ~10 mins and he gets back to bed in his own bed and many times it reoccurs in a few hours later that nite.

We've tried to stop screen time (PC, TV, Wi, etc)
starting an hour before bed but we just started that so haven't seen any change yet. Also trying to make that a more soothing time in that 1hr window. We also need to cut down total screen time per day to about 2hrs/day but it's hard because our kids are addicted & we use it too often as a baby sitter. I think he's been on certain websites that are not for 8yr old kids and I bought a tool to block those websites.

Any help would be greatly appreciated as a few months of this have impacted our day time moods.


God Bless.

Aug 15, 2011
"My 7 yrd old can not stay asleep"
by: Anonymous

I am going through the same thing with my 4.5yr old. He is taking Melatonin and it is great getting him to fall asleep, but he wakes up every night and sometimes will lie awake for several hours. He shares a room with his twin, and so now he knows that he should just come in my room and get into bed with us, so the other one doesn't wake up. I am exhausted!!! We have an appointment with the sleep specialist this week, and I am waning a miracle cure. He is 4.5 yrs old and has bags under his eyes like a 50 yr old should have.

Oct 04, 2011
My 7 Year Old Daughter Can Not Stay Asleep at night
by: Anonymous

My daughter is 6. She has had a problem with sleep since age 2. She is taking melatonin to fall asleep at night. My story is very similar to the others. She is asleep until about 1am and then comes running to find me during the night. If I do put her back in her bed and wait for her to fall asleep, she will be there for approx 1 more hour before waking again. I do believe there may be a problem with separation anxiety (I'm also a single mom). However, I have yet to find a solution. She needs her sleep to function at school and it worries me that there is very rarely a time that she sleeps through the night. I heard that the melatonin only works for a 4-5 hour window and wonder if I should give her a small dose when she wakes at 1am. At the same time I do not want to risk giving her too much. Any feedback or solutions would be very much appreciated. To all the other parents up all night - hang in there! I feel your pain! Thank you!

Oct 05, 2011
my 7 year old wont stay in her bed at night and crys before bed every night with some excuse to come in our bed
by: Anonymous

i need some one to tell me does it stop or do i take her to a counsler... im soo lost and i know it is my fault.. when she was born it was just me and her for almost a year and i had her in my bed because of all the guilt i had with her biological father.. but me and my husband got together when she was 7 mons.. we still had her sleep with us because she would be upset in the middle of the night and wanted to sleep with us.. now she is almost 8 and every night before bed she makes up things to get into our bed.. she will cry about school or say shes sick or just say she is scared to sleep in her room.. i an so lost because now me and my husband are starting to argue over it but we both still give in because its so tiring...please give me some advice.. thank u

Oct 09, 2011
My 6yo has the same problem
by: Anonymous

I'm disappointed that no professionals have commented on this thread but it has been a blessing to me just to read the story of so many other parents who are going through the exact same thing.
I'm a single dad with a wonderful 6yo daughter who used to sleep through the night but has been having problems staying asleep for over a month now. Pretty much the same story-melatonin is great to get her to fall asleep but after one or 2 hours max she's up again, trying to find me. I lay her back down and sit outside her room where she can still see me until she falls back asleep and then the whole cycle repeats itself until at the point of utter exhaustion I just let her come lay down with me and then she's fine.
Any suggestions would be so very greatly appreciated!
Thank you!

Oct 18, 2011
by: Anonymous

I am raising my grandson he will not sleep through the night he wakes at least 3 to 4 times a night. Nothing seems to be working only because, I put him to bed and I go back to bed. he comes knocks on the door. I put him back to bed this time I lay with til I think he's sleep and still i get up and leave quietly. and then we do it all over again. Sometimes its shadows but most time he doesnt know why he wakes. Help its causing marital problems.

Oct 20, 2011
Me Too
by: Anonymous

My 6 year old was a premie and we have the same issue. She falls asleep fine but every 3-4 hours I hear the pitter patter of little feet headed for our room. I put her back in her bed only to repeat a couple times each night

Nov 03, 2011
Say no to melatonin
by: LittleBeetKids

For those of you giving your children melatonin, please stop! There have been no studies on the extended use of this in children. The only thing it is doing is quite possibly interrupting their own production of the hormone (yes it is a hormone), so that when they should be naturally be producing the hormone at bedtime they won't because their body will get accustomed to an external source. The long-term effects of that could make things much worse for them in the future! And as most of you point out it may help them fall asleep, but it doesn't keep them asleep. This is completely true! Furthermore, melatonin is known to delay the onset of puberty. Please do not give it to your children.

If you want to help yor child's own melatonin production, then stop with the TV, computer, game boy, iphone, etc, by 4 pm. These activities stimulate the brain to think it's still daytime, and so the kids don't ever get the signal that it is nearing bedtime. Dim the lights in your house and keep things low key about a half hour before bedtime and that should help the child produce the melatonin necessary to fall asleep. If you're giving melatonin too far in advance of going to bed, you're actually probably causing the advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS) in the child--waking too early (i.e. the middle of the night).

During the second half of the night as the body approaches the wake up time, cortisol is released. This is the stress hormone. It is what wakes us up when our bodies recognize it is morning. As you approach morning, cortisol levels increas and it becomes harder to go back to sleep than it would be earlier in the night. This is probably contributing to the problem with these children. So the real key is to figure out how to get them to sleep through their light arousals in the middle of the night. For one, do they have lights on in their rooms that their brain might misperceive as daylight? Let your child fall asleep with a light if it helps them, but then turn it off so the room is dark through the night. Better yet, get them to embrace the darkness.

The general treatment for ASPS is bright lights at night time (and I don't mean the kind generated by TVs and computers). The idea being that you delay the production of the melatonin which further delays the production of the cortisol. That and keeping the room dark at night and into the morning until you are definitely ready for it to be daytime.

to be continued...

Nov 03, 2011
continued from last post...
by: LittleBeetKids

...continued from last post, apparently exceeded my 3000

I have other thoughts on how to keep your kids in bed, but since each child is doing it for a different reason, i'm afraid to get into too many reasons, as one suggestion might help one child, but be the exactly wrong thing to do for another. For example, some of these kids will show results by having their bedtimes moved to an earlier time. At this age a bedtime of 7-8 pm is appropriate. If they are going to sleep too late, not getting enough sleep in general could be making it worse. Sleep begets sleep, and it seems insomnia begets insomnia.

Also, were these children ever good sleepers? The problem with children who aren't taught how to go to sleep properly in infancy is that they never "grow out of it". Barring any major sleep disorders or other tangible physiological or emotional issues that might be keeping them awake, your best bet is to start "sleep training" right away. As another commenter said, by giving in to it, you will only make it worse, and if you're giving in to it at 7 yrs old, then you have probably been doing it all along, and therein lies the problem. If you don't nip it in the bud, consistently, it will not stop. The child will always try thinking there will be possibility he will succeed. There are many methods for teaching a child to sleep, and people who can help you do it. I recommend looking into one of them.

The only other thing I can think to suggest is to look into the possibility that the child has a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome. Check with a local Sleep Clinic to see if they can evaluate the child. Don't bother going to your regular pediatrician unless she is a sleep specialist, since most doctors only get a few hours of training in sleep medicine.

Also, as another commenter mentioned... talk to your children about what's going on at school. Are they having any trouble, anything that's causing them stress? If so, it would exacerbate the nightwakings and the inability to go back to sleep. Help them work through their issues if they have them.

And maybe try sleeping in their room one night (while they sleep elsewhere) to see if something is going on in the night. Maybe a loud neighbor regularly comes home late and makes noise that wakes the child up, even though you never hear it. And that one wake up is when the child comes to you. I had a problem like this with one onf my son's when he was 2.5 yrs old.

And keep a log of the awakenings. See if they're getting up at the same times each night, and same as in exactly the same amount of time since they went to sleep. So if the child goes to sleep at 8 pm and wakes up at 2 am one night, and goes to sleep at 7:30 pm and wakes up at 1:30, then there is regularity to the interval of time the child stays asleep. That can help you decipher whether the problem is internal to the child or external.

Good luck.

Dec 18, 2011
Our daughters must be twins!
by: Karen

When I read your story I thought I was reading about my own child. Emily has trouble going to sleep and wont drift off unless we sit in her room with her where she can see us / touch us and she has not slept through the night for the past two years. She always wakes up at the same time each night and comes into our bed. I go through phases of getting tough and taking her back to her bed but that can means i get up 5 times a night so most nights we just give in and let her crawl in between us. We have tried counsellors, psychologists, paediatricians, food diet, phernergan, meditation CDs, allowing her pets in her room and many other tricks told to us by friends but the only time she ever stays in her bed all night is if she has a friend over to sleep. She just cannot stay in her own bed in her own room if no-one else is in there with her. My husband, our son and I are totally over this behaviour and have booked her into a sleep speiclaist but his waitlist is 4 months long. Does anyone have any advice that can make a difference to our sleep deprived lives?!

Feb 08, 2012
Iv read all post and this is exaclly the same experiance

young girl she is seven and has simillar traits to as this, very hard to get her to sleep but when you finally do, she comes in 3 , 4 sometimes 5 times a night, absolutely never sleeps through the night, flat out refuses to stay in her room some nights, its absolute havoc on her mum and myself.

This has been ongoing for a few years now,recently
we introduced a new system ,

just before bed time her mum has been teaching her a new breathing technique,

this is a form of light meditation very simple and easy to do, breathing deep through the nose and gently out through the mouth,

the best way she could get her to do this was she told her to smell the flowers (breath in ) and blow out the candles(breathe out }.

what shes found after ten minutes of this is shes very relaxed calm and ready for bed.

has been very effective for her

im in the progress of dimming the lights, trying to get to the point were we can turn them out all together, this is on going atm ! i know this still dosnt fix the continual disturbance during the night, its a work in progress, we are thinking that once she gets used to doing the breathing techniques over and over, we are going to ask her to do this when she wakes, we haven't done this yet, we are in the process of her doing the excersizes before bed

i hope this helps, iv learnt alot more from the posts here thank you all for your contributions

Feb 28, 2012
I'll tell you what helped me......
by: Anonymous

Being a mother of five, I have been in many situations like this. Sleepless nights for different reasons. Each child is different. My son, my oldest had sleep apnea and night terrors. My three daughters all had night terrors. My 9 year old daughter has always had separation anxiety and serious phobias and fears of odd things such as rainstorms and people wearing costumes ( ex. Chuck E. Cheese, mickey mouse). She even missed 21 days of school one year because she didn't want to leave me or her house to go to school. She would freak out and scream when I would try to drop her off. My son has a tendency to hyperactiveness and in 3rd grade started doing poorly in school and having behavioral issues the 2 things that helped me to resolve these issues were 1.)Prayer and 2) Homeopathic medicine. These have saved my life. I advise you to research homeopathy and observe your child closely and find the remedy that most fits your childs characteristics,behavior, and/ symptoms. When you find the correct one, it will help tremendously. You might have to try a couple of different ones before getting to the right one. But they are completely safe and have no side effects. People who have tried it and said it didn't work for them are the ones who didn't do enough research to figure out the correct remedy and most likely took the wrong one. Therefore saw no results. Be patient, stick with it, and it will pay off. Homeopathy is for both mental and physical issues. I can thankfully say it helped me with both, time and time again.

Mar 07, 2012
My fvour year old wont sleep.
by: so tired

I have very strict routine for her bedtime and she falls right to sleep but by midnight shes wide awake. Not only that if I am aslleep and dont hear her .she wakes the other kids up wanting to play and they have school so its wearing on them also. She is very sneaky and quite and roams through the house which terrorizes me that she will get hurt, I have taken her off of all sugar and caffinne but believe me on her nights out prowling those are the things she beelines for.HELP! My family is so tired and out of ideas! She too was a preemie and I wonder if she has adhd as she shows signs of that but was told shes to little to diagnose. I will try anything so I can have nore than 3 hours of sleep at night not to mention it isnt healthy for her, she wont go back to sleep til around 6 a.m. Thank you for all sugestions!!

Mar 22, 2012
My story is a bit different
by: Charlene

We never had major issues at all with my daughter who is 7. Recently she has been getting up every night around 3 AM and can not fall back asleep. We have tried leaving her, letting her read, laying with her. None of it works :( It takes her hours to go back to sleep. Once I even gave her Benadryl at the waking to help ! But that was after a week of her getting up. I really dont like doing that. She has tried melatonin but it doesn't help her stay asleep. She is extremely active and has many energy outlets. We just dont know what to do. BTW she goes to bed around 830 with no problems.

Mar 23, 2012
Yep my 7 yr old too
by: Char

I love that people ASSUME that you dont know how to calm a child down or teach them to go to bed, or that you "always give in"... or the comments I've gotten like... limit tv, have a routine...

My daughter had seizures as an infant, she still takes meds... her neurologist told us to give her melatonin. We did. It would get her to sleep but not stay asleep. He said... give her another dose (at 2yr old up to 6mg a night). We did this for a bit (her lack of sleep was stunting her growth).

I have never let her in my bed to sleep unless she was sick. We start 1 hr before bed - bath, rub lotion in, read 2-3 books, (have a handful of peanuts because someeone told me protein will help them sleep), and a trip to the bathroom.

We say prayers, she listens to a 1-3 lullabies, has a dim night that goes off 30 min after its on. She shares a room with her sister. We rotate the direction of her bed (another suggestion someone gave me).

She goes to bed at 845am and wakes up promptly at 3am. She will come tell me she is awake and cant sleep. I tell her go back to bed. (she is not getting up to go pee). I get up 5 min later to find her laying there quietly eyes closed - but every 30 min she comes to ask for help to sleep that she cant sleep. Ive given her a sweater to hold onto in her bed ... we've tried rubbing theraputic lavender essential oil on her feet (yet another suggestion).

Her ped doc keeps telling me she is just keeping her awake and will not refer her. He said, maybe its allergies (no symptoms)... he gave me the whole... "you have to limit tv, have a routine, get her to bed early, and make sure she is active".

She IS active, we watch only about 1 hr of tv... she plays sports, she has all A's (infact 98=100), I dont let her sleep with me, and I have taken away screen time, ds, playdates, movie dates (with me), and threatened not to take her to our upcoming Florida vacation, Ive tried stickers for sleeping thru the night with rewards, etc. I AM ABOUT TO GO NUTS! I am beyond tired, tired of my daughter with dark circles under her eyes.... meanwhile, her sister sleeps just fine.

Jun 18, 2012
We got our 3yo to sleep through
by: Anonymous

This is a simple suggestion but it is something that worked for us. Our 3yo was getting up in the middle of the night wanting to get into bed with us, then having a full blown tantrum when we sent her back to her room.

Between her and the other 2 children (water, toilet, scary dreams etc) we were not getting much sleep.

We had this problem for a couple of weeks then put a small night light in her room. She continued to come in to our room for a few nights after putting the night light in but eventually stopped. We think she kept coming out of habit!

For her just having that little bit of light in her room helped. Also she has always insisted on having her door closed at night, however the other thing that changed at this time was that she now wanted her door open a little.

I hope these suggestions may help some one else, we were lucky and our DD did not have as many sleep issues as some of the others.

Keep trying and don't give up, those of you that can try to get a good nights sleep one night yourself (go to another room and let your partner deal with it, have a relative stay etc) the more you get run down the harder it will be for all of you.

My thoughts are with you. Good luck

Jun 13, 2013
Try even earlier sleep time NEW
by: Betsy

I have always had problems with my daughters sleep since we came home from the hospital. She is 6 and we were having some physical problems as well. No one could help they suggested all kinda of things. I too thought 8:30 was a good bedtime so did all the experts, no one suggested 7. I slowly found the more I moved up her bedtime and kept the rest of the house very quiet no tv for me etc. the better it got. I think kids need more sleep then most of us adults realize. Plus some kids probably are more prone to having difficulties with sleep so it makes it hard when life happens. Anyway that was my experience I wish someone had suggested this to me it was a little thing that worked and actually is still hard to do sometimes.

Aug 11, 2013
waking up NEW
by: adam

Hello were do i start i have had my 6 yr old girl.with me for 3 years as her mum wanted nothing her nearly every night withoit fail she wakes up and wont go sleep on her own either she comes in with me or i go there if i leave her she just cries.

If anyone has any advice or help please let me.know thanks

Oct 09, 2013
im going through the same thing NEW

I am going through it also. Even as a baby see never slept through the night. Doctors diagnosed her with adhd and anxiety. She takes melatonin and clondine,to help her sleep. With the two it works, but about once a week she will sleep a few hours and is afraid to fall asleep. I started lullaby music and classics. Hoping this help calm the brainwaves. I was told that my daughter's brain is like a slow motion movie. She is processing thing slower than normal kids, while the world is moving fast. The only thing drs think is she is trying to process the stuff from that day. But they never really know for sure. Big thing they said no tv an hour before bed. Don't do anything that will stimulate the brain before bed. I would talk to your doctor. Be demanding almost, have them do a sleep study.

Nov 10, 2013
4 year old NEW
by: Amanda

My son does not sleep through the night, and never has... He wakes up 3 times a night, turns his light on, and runs into my room to sleep with me. I have been putting him back religiously for over 2 weeks. I have a 3 month old, and he has almost squished him... I have tried everything. He is a very hyper boy and has major behavioural problems. He talks back, doesn't listen, calls names, all of which he gets time outs for... But it doesn't work... I am at my wits end as with my new breastfed baby I am lucky to clear 4 hours of sleep altogether. I don't give my child any meds to fall asleep... and if I lock my bedroom door, he bolts to his older sisters room to sleep with her. Please help... As I don't know what to do... Doc said its normal and he'll grow out of it... Well it's been 2 years... And he still does it... Suggestions?!

Nov 27, 2013
7 Year old Waking at night NEW
by: Anonymous

My 7 year old has started waking at night around 1:30 and wants her me, her mommy. I have talked to her about this, and she says she just misses me. I think that it has alot to do with exercise. Her softball league ended about a month ago, and after that, she was waking up at night. I'm thinking she's not getting enough exercise. Her dad and I are divorced, but she get's along with her new step dad. She is really great in school, no problems at all, she tells me she is good at school, cause she doesn't want to get into trouble. Tonight she had a meltdown because she didn't do what I asked her to do, so I told her she had to go to bed and she said "NO". Meltdown for the next hour. I'm really concerned, maybe needs to see a doctor. She tells me when she wakes up, she can't go back to sleep unless I come lay with her for a little while. What to do?

Jun 25, 2014
My Sleep NEW
by: Vigila

i am an 8 year old girl. I go to bed between 8:30-9, and read till
9:30-10. I get up from 5:30-7 am. So, I get 7.5-9 hours.
I take Melatonin to fall asleep ,but I had to, otherwise, I can't get to

Jul 14, 2014
Thanks to this great spell caster who brought back my husband NEW
by: julie

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Jul 27, 2014
by: nadia lisa

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Aug 15, 2014
my testimony NEW
by: jenny morgan

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(3)And if you have issues with having a baby
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Sep 01, 2014
by: Anonymous

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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

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Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

How This Site Was Made

In 2007 I discovered a guide to website building that would change my life. After learning from it diligently, it would eventually empower me to help Dr. Dement take his life's mission of spreading education about sleep health to the online world. Now, several years later, this site reaches over 100,000 visitors per month and counting.

The results are due in large part to the methods taught in that guide, and they are replicable for others who have knowledge of a subject they would like to share with the masses. I've detailed some of my journey here for those who might be interested.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

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