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My Child Can't Fall Asleep

by Sharon

My daughter is nearly 8. She is a highly strung child at the best of times and can't fall asleep. We use the usual bedtime routine, teeth, reading etc but she still lies awake for hours.

She also insists we sit in the room with her. We have tried gradually withdrawing, but as soon as we move to the corridor outside her room, she demands that we sit in her room!
She is not alone in her room as her brother and sister also sleep there (by choice).

Her behaviour is eating up our entire evening - it is not unusual to start the bedtime routine at between 6:30pm and 7pm and for her to still be awake at 9pm... I am at the end of my tether!

Please help!!! Exhausted in Africa!

Kevin: Hi Sharon, Thank you for writing in. Have you tried shifting her whole bedtime routine back a couple of hours? In other words, you could start putting her to bed (teeth, reading, etc) at 8pm or 8:30 instead of 6:30 or 7. Is it possible that she is not actually tired enough at the earlier times to be compelled to lay still?

Sometimes perceived sleep problems with children are actually just problems with expectations about when they should be tired. When that is the case, the problems can go away just by changing the timing and the expectations.

That may not be the case with your daughter, but I figured it was worth pointing out. Please feel free to update this page with any progress or setbacks you have using the comments section below.


(Please keep in mind that I am a student of sleep science and not a medical doctor. Please take any thoughts I give with my background in mind.)

Comments for My Child Can't Fall Asleep

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Mar 20, 2013
sleep time
by: Gerry

I agree,we start shower, brushing teeth etc time at 7:30,then between 8 to 8:30 story time, etc. He is in bed by 8:30 pm asleep by 9 pm.

Apr 11, 2014
Delayed sleep phase syndrom NEW
by: Birgitte

Maybe you resolve why you son can not sleep by now, but it has taken us 17 years to get to there.
My oldest son, was/is never tired to sleep on "normal times", when he was 2 years old, he dit never sleep until 21:30 no matter what we tried to trick him in to thinking it was already 21:30, short nap, early dinner and bed rituals etc.
Later it got later, and he was and is so alert when it is nightime, thinking about tons of stuff interesting stuff and , and in the morning, if he can wake, he i a zoombie the first many hours. It only gets later with the age. So just accept it. My son missed a lot of school, he was impossible to wake, but was not allowed to go to a sleepspecialist here in Denmark until this year, and got the diagnose Delayed sleep phase syndrom straiht away. Good luck. I guess delayed sleep phase syndrom people are the ones supposed to guard on night, while others sleep, and then Advanced sleep phase synrdom people, who wants to sleep very early and wake early, take over the guading in the early morning hours. Delayed sleep phase people then sleep from all noises and lights etc with no problem. Maybe natures little magic, which is hard to fit into modern society, but must get the best out of it, freelance work, shift work, education is the hard part problably. Take care.

Dec 21, 2015
Return to My Child Can't Fall Asleep. NEW
by: Conrad

Never realized how many people have the same problem with the kids with no solutions

Dec 31, 2015
My 7year old daughter can't fall asleep NEW
by: Sally

Hiya there I just read ur article and exactly the same thing my daughter cannot fall asleep, she just wants to stay awake and be with her and talk play around with her. Just doesn't feels sleepy. She is a daddy's girl and he works night shifts I doesn't until morning and she will wait for him until he is there with her she will lay she doesn't get much asleep even after he gets back. She has been doing this ever since she was a toddler

Jan 21, 2016
My 9 year old can't sleep NEW
by: Anonymous

It's good to know at least I'm not alone my poor son finds it hard every night for years to go to sleep, he really try's and gets himself up set about it. Once he is asleep he goes into a deep sleep but unfortunately I will have to wake him up for school with him being still tired, he gets then very nasty clearly from needing more sleep. He's then slow getting dressed putting his shoes on and we are always nearly the last ones to get to his class

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