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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!

Comments for My 7 Year Old Daughter Can Not Stay Asleep At Night

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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.

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 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

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.

Jun 13, 2013
Try even earlier sleep time
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
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

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.

Jun 25, 2014
My Sleep
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

Feb 23, 2015
13 year old NEW
by: Anonymous

Does anyone have any answers ? My 13 year old falls asleep in her bed. Only sleeps 1_3 hrs and then is up. She gets so stressed she is up for another 1 _3 hrs. I know if I put her in my bed she would sleep ??

Feb 25, 2015
Plz read if ur child can't sleep. NEW
by: Anonymous

1. Always pray. In front of children saying . Lord protect my child through this night. And they will feel safe. 2. Throw away all bad things in the room like any cartoons or any Disney characters, any bad toys...believe me they will sleep, all this effects kids big time when they sleep. If ur kid can't fall asleep try this and I know they wil sleep ... My friend had a Disney watch and her kid couldn't fall asleep she always came to her mom but one day they through all that away and she slept like a baby every night. Hope this helped someone,

Mar 24, 2015
Dr.noMeds NEW
by: Anonymous

She might not be up for the 9-5 bankster scam.
Let her live her own life.
Be a good mom. Not a good slave handeler.
Me; I never wanted to go to sleep at night as a child simply because I liked to ve up during darknes. That's who I was and still am. No reason to fight a child in to the frame of society..
And NEVER give your child medication to sqeeze her in to that frame.. Not add medicin nor sleeping aids. If she cant sleep because of nightmares, THROW OUT YOUR TV SET! You should throw it out anyways..

Jul 13, 2015
sleep science education NEW
by: jock

Nice to share

Dec 21, 2015
My 7 Year Old Daughter Can Not Stay Asleep At Night. Read more: NEW
by: Anonymous

Having the same trouble with our 8 year old. I see no useful comments here. Did you ever get help?

Jan 29, 2016
What we do NEW
by: Anonymous

I was going through this with both my 8&9 yr old girls. There was never room in my bed and I gave up and went to the couch. I want them to know I am always a safe place but that I need my space literally do I don't hurt in the morning. I made a "if then bed" next to my side. I folded up a blanket for cushion and put down a pillow which instructions that "if" they felt scared "then" they could use that space to feel protected and close to Mom & dad. The only time was not to wake us up. To be very quiet and let people sleep. I only occassionally find one of my girls there now. At first one or both would be there every morning - but the figured out pretty fast that the floor isn't very comfortable do they try to find ways to self soothe first. The option remains available and choices make them feel less afraid!

Feb 05, 2016
Frustrated NEW
by: Anonymous

My 7 year old daughter sleeps in her own bedroom since she was born and sleeps through the night but we went to Sydney last December for a month holiday and we stayed with a family so had to share one room and in that whole month she was sleeping with me and daddy would sleep on the floor. We came home and she would ask me to stay in her room until she has fallen asleep and wakes up in the middle of the night and won't go back to bed or sleep unless i lay down with her again. it has been going for 3 weeks now. i am so frustrated, i have tried everything but nothing really works and i came up to this site but there is no advice i see but all the same complaints like mine.

Feb 08, 2016
Not Alone! NEW
by: sleepless mom

Im so glad to hear that I'm not the only parent who is going through this. My daughter is 9 now and has been waking up in the middle of the night since she was around 2. There was alot of emotional abuse from her father towards me through out the years. Finally we divorced in 2014. She is currently in therapy due to the divorce and abandonment of her father. Her therapist diagnosed her with PTSD w/separation anxiety. Last Monday she had her first sleep study at Childrens, hoping to find out what is going on. She could not sleep alone at all. I recently started giving her melatonin to help calm her before bed but never helped to keep her asleep. I know im at fault for some of the sleep habits due to getting in bed with her in the middle of the night when she would call me. It got frustrating waking every couple of hours so i gave in. Hopefully I will find out in 4 weeks how I can help her.

I have read that weight blankets help out alot. I think i might lean towards that until i get answers. I also dont want to medicate her and homeopathic remedies are so expensive :(

Feb 10, 2016
sleep deprived NEW
by: Momma with 7 yrs old

I can relate to all these posts I've tried everything my daughter has a weighed blanket, lullabies, sound lights you name it! Still nothing has worked... if anyone can find a resolution please tell me.... tired Mom

Feb 10, 2016
Up At Night NEW
by: Patricia

Glad to find this. Last night, after years of getting up to my now eight year old daughter in the night, I threw a tantrum and told her she wasn't coming on vacation with us, as we all needed some proper sleep. She's never been a good sleeper, up every morning at 5.30am, which is fine. Bit it's the night waking that is exhausting us. My husband goes straight back to sleep after one of us comforts her but I often can't find sleep again. She's very active during the day and is happy to go to bed at night. Always takes a while to fall asleep and prefers to have someone lie with her while she drifts off but we try not to. But then she wakes two or three times in the night, either saying she has bad dreams, or something on her body hurts, like a mosquito bite is itching. Refuses to go back to sleep unless one of us lies with her, or she comes into our bed and one of us has to sleep in her bed. Luckily her sister sleeps all night like a log but I did wake her up last night with my tantrum! Would like to read more on this, please advise.

Mar 16, 2016
Same/same NEW
by: Anonymous

My son is 7 years old and goes to sleep without any complaints, but by 10:00 pm he's at my door crying, then it's every hour or two until morning. The consequence for waking me up at night is he has to repay me by doing chores. Before he goes to bed at night he's very hopeful and tells me he's not going to get up that night but two hours later he's crying. I do not put him in bed with me and I do not lay with him. I walk him back to his bed. I've also taken away his favorite toys and told him the only way he can earn them back is by not getting up until the morning. I believe that if I stick with it, he'll eventually conquer this challenge and feel so proud of himself for being able to sleep through the night. I am divorced and my son visits his dad and when he's with his dad he sleeps with dad. At my house he sleeps in his own bed. There's usually a transition from dad visits but this run has now lasted close to a month and in two weeks he's going back to his dad's for a week. I'm open to any solutions that may have worked with other parents or in a situation where one parent is consistent but the other is not.

May 03, 2016
8 year old waking at night also NEW
by: Julia

Please do not use a punishment system. This will only make things worse. They cannot control this. My daughter is the same. It's the second time that this has happened in a year and a half. Last year we got through it by my spending more me and her time during the day and by using CBT workbook on anxiety. This time it came about after a 10 day holiday with us all sharing the same room and then jetlag upon our return had her waking in the night and couldn't get back to sleep. She would do anything to not be like this and even with the prospect of a reward that she really wanted, she didn't manage to sleep through the night without coming into us. On top of feeling anxious and different to everyone else (my daughter is always saying to me; "I just wish I was like all the other children. What is wrong with me"?) you are basically telling your child that it's all their fault and punishing them for something they cannot control. I find this approach cruel and ineffective.

May 03, 2016
additional comment NEW
by: Anonymous

oh, and even if punishing does miraculously work, what message is your child receiving from you regarding this?

May 28, 2016
Has Anyone Had a Sleep Study Done? NEW
by: Linn

Has anyone had a sleep study done on a child that gave you any information on what to do?

Oct 19, 2016
Lack of sleep NEW
by: Tracy

My 8 year old daughter is exactly the same,I have to lay with her until she falls asleep and then she gets me up every single night for a hug if I get up to go back to my bed she cries and screams and just wants me,she is a very bright child and is happy at school,home etc...but she acts like a small child,won't go to the toilet alone,I need mummy all the time,doesn't like to left too long ie,if she's sat watching telly and I'm busy doing tea she will come looking for me,the waking up has been going on for years and it's very draining,I too have tried everything I can think of to try and solve the problem but to no avail,please please someone give me the answer,from a very tired mum x

Oct 20, 2016
Take it slowly NEW
by: Jules

In reply to Tracy's recent post, I took the gentle approach with my daughter. We looked at the anxiety gremlin book (available on amazon) and we discussed what anxiety was and how it was her body just playing tricks on her, telling her she needed me when really she didn't, that she wasn't in any danger and that we needed to find a way for her to manage to fall asleep alone and that she would feel really proud once she did.. And she did but it took months!! I started sitting on her bed instead of lying with her until she was asleep, then I sat on chair by her bed, then a chair by the door then the big move was to leave the room for five minutes, and come back and whisper "I'm here" and I would do that every five minutes until she didn't reply so I knew she was asleep then we moved up to 10 minutes, then 15, then 20 etc etc. Once we got to one hour I told her I would just check in on her before I went to bed. It took a long time but it was a really gentle approach which is what I wanted for her. She did have to face her fear a little bit each time we moved up to a new level (I remember being stuck at 29 minutes for 3 weeks because she had a mental block with 30 minutes!). Once we reached that stage she would only sometimes wake at night and come onto a mattress in the hall next to our room. In the end, this stopped on holiday when she was sharing a room with her little sister and there was no mattress so she had no choice. Good luck. I've been there and it's not easy. You could probably do it much more quickly but much more harshly but that's just not for me! By the way, I discussed this with a child psychiatrist who told me that around this age children realise that people die and that they won't have their parents forever and this is what is at the base of this sort of behaviour. It could be good also to talk about that and ask her if she is afraid something might happen to you and explain how it is very unlikely etc.. Also, the slow breathing exercises help.

Jan 12, 2017
Answers to Sleep issues NEW
by: Dr Joe

Practicing for over 19 years we have seen many cases involving young children with anxiety issues. This effects girls more then boysand we have found a handful of issues that will feed into the problem.

There are many degrees each of these can happen. Each child is unique in the approach.

1. Adrenals control your circadian rhythm of sleep. Need to look at adrenal function and make sure it is functioning properly. Hyper function is often a concern.

2. Adrenals are also responsible for fight or flight. If the body sense a stress, wheather it is chemical, physical or emotional it will remain in a flight state. Melatonin works in conjunction allowing the body to also enter into sleep mode. This is what helps your body calm down. Blue light is major disruptor to melatonin production especially at night. So things like TV and computer, games should not be watch for about an hour or so before bed. There are glasses that she can wear that block out blue light. I have seen people very sensitive to this.

3. GUT!!!! All the happy /sad hormones are made in the gut. This is driving by bacteria, which is driving by nerve which is interpreted by the brain. If at any juncture is not working she will have issues.
The flow to melatonin is through serotonin which is produced in the bacteria of the GI system. So often many of these kids where over prescripted antibiotics wiping out their GI bacteria.

4. Serotonin is travels up the vagus nerve to stimulate the brain stem with these chemicals. It travels 9 x's up compared to 1x down. This is why chiropractic adjustments with these kids do so well. It is a stimulator to allow serotonin into the brain stem.

5. Brain mapping the longer they are in this state the harder it is going to be to get her out. She is creating neurological connections in her brain that are being driven and programed by anxious thoughts. Retraining this thought process is a must, although these are real thoughts having a conscious understanding how to control them is very different and difficult but can be done through training.

6. Genetics Yes are a big player, knowing any family history of mental disease can help but not 100% needed. It would be very wise to run the 23 and me and find all her snps (aka genetic defects)

7. Diet Must address diet as if this is the only answer. Diet is a big player in helping the body heal. Lean kids have are more prone, the brain is made of fat, they need a load of fat in her diet, Good fat of course, and a non processed approach to eating.

Dr Joe

Feb 27, 2017
Lack of sleep NEW
by: Tracy

To Dr Joe,thank you for the advice,I will look into this,I will be speaking to our doctor soon to try and resolve the problem x

Feb 27, 2017
Lack of sleep NEW
by: Tracy

To Jules,thank you for your advise,this is something that I will definitely try,I have spoken with a different doctor at our surgery (the first one said she couldn't help not long after my first post) the second one said she'd be more than happy to see us and try and resolve the problem xx thanks again x

Feb 27, 2017
follow-up NEW
by: Jules

I would also definitely recommend a child psychologist specialising in CBT. The fear ladder approach is good but I think she also needs to learn relaxation techniques - particularly belly breathing and distraction..(anything that takes her mind off her feeling anxious - mental calculations, body scans, fiddling with things with her hands, mental imagery etc). The psychologist we are seeing has helped us with all this because we had a relapse over Christmas when we visited family abroad. The thing she has to realise is that anxiety is just an unpleasant feeling and unpleasant feelings don't last forever and she has it in her to lessen it. There is no real danger, her body is just playing tricks on her. If she can ride it out and bring her anxiety level down to a manageable one by herself she will feel so much better and proud of herself. We had to push through the fear barrier one night by taking away the mattress and telling her that this was it now, she was going to face it and although she was literally panic stricken, she did it and that was a month ago and since then she has not come into our room during the night. However, before you get to that point, she needs to learn all about anxiety, what it is, how it affects her body, feelings etc and what she can do to calm herself down - otherwise you are just throwing her in the deep end without a life jacket so to speak. A child psychologist will be able to help you through all these steps.

Feb 27, 2017
Lack of sleep NEW
by: Tracy

Hi Jules ,thanks again for your advice,I will give it all a try and also see what doctor says,it's nice to know I'm not the only one going through it,I really hope something works soon,I know it's hard but we'll persevere,wish me luck and watch this space xx

Feb 28, 2017
by: Anonymous

Good luck.. By the way, the first thing to find out is whether she really does feel anxious or not or whether this is just really a deep rooted preference that she now has....We knew when ours started explaining how she felt in her body.. the racing heart, the fast breathing, the nausea etc.. You'll get there eventually but it can be a long road.

Mar 06, 2017
A tip NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi,Im Bella. For the past few days I've slept in my fort and have had NO problems. From reading your posts even though i am 9 and couldn't sleep tonight I suggest you not to change your childs sleep schedule no matter what. At sleepovers I don't sleep or wake up in the middle of the night most likely because I am uncomfortable...

Aug 01, 2017
Read writers question before you answer! NEW
by: Anonymous

@Ryan, did you Not Read her post??? She clearly says she has NO problem falling asleep, it's the STAYING asleep that's the problem, sorry to sound so harsh, it's just so annoying to sit here & read your completely irrelevant list of "suggestions" & questions on why she's not able to FALL asleep. Again I apologize for the harshness but I'm a mother of 4 at my wits end with my seven year old boy looking for suggestions on how to get him to STAY asleep and I've now wasted my time both reading your irrelevant suggestions and writing this post, ugh, good night & good luck

Nov 14, 2017
Anyone? NEW
by: Anonymous

I have a 9 year old is fighting about sleeping. Making up stories about Freddy (some neighborhood kid told her about the horror stories) too claiming that she is seeing things when they are not their. She is getting to the point where she will go in and out of he nurses office constantly during school because she's so tired and can't concentrate. I just tried melatonin with her which worked the first night and hasn't worked sense than. She is eating things in the middle of the night like playdough and won't get me or her step-dad up. It's coming to the point where I am concerned for her and her safety because I am having to already install so many locks around the house. I pretty much have all the cupboards in our house locked and I may even locked the refrigerator and trash can. I have tried quiet time with her, getting a sound device, putting a fan in her room, taking out her light, providing nightlights, providing light up pillow pets, throwing away her toys and even limiting her bed to only having a few blankets on them. She's constantly throwing fits, her attitude is just getting so poor and she's so far behind school work. Even her school is aware now that their are some days she does great and other days where she is just horrible. For those who say to let the kid do what they want, that's all fine and dandy until it starts effecting the whole family and her school work. Does anybody else have any other suggestions with a extremely stubborn child who won't go to sleep, but maybe a couple hours a night? I feel like i'm a prisoner in my own home.

Sep 24, 2018
Calcium deficiency might be an issue NEW
by: Natalie

I've had similar problem with my 7 yo. She had troubles falling asleep and staying asleep. Our pediatrician recommended Melatonin. I Looked it up and found very controversial information. Some sources say that it's not good to give it to kids under 10 yo, and also that it's not always solve the problem. That's when I came across with the information that lack of calcium during growth sprouts can cause sleep problems. At first, it didn't make sense to me, but after researching calcium properties, I decided to give it a try. Also I looked back and realized that my daughter hadn't been receiving a recommended dose of calcium a day (especially when they start losing teeth and growing new ones). I had Calcium Citrate at home, and I simply crushed the pill, mixed with some yogurt or apple sauce and gave it to her twice a day. I gave my daughter total 700mg a day for 2 weeks. My husband was very skeptical, but it did work for us. She started sleeping through the night after 3 days. Also, she became calmer during the day. We will be repeating the 2 week course once in a while now. If you decide to give it a try, make sure it's not calcium carbonate! Ifrom what I know, it's a bad one, and will stay in your child's kidneys.

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