A Three Year Old’s Sleep Regression

A Three Year Old’s Sleep Regression

Every night, in the middle of the night (I’m never sure at exactly what time as I don’t keep my phone in our bedroom) the door creaks open and in walks a familiar miniature figure.

“I can’t sleep”, he says, sounding far too awake.

It’s Jack, our three and a half year old. For the last few weeks, maybe months (who knows?), he’s been waking up every night saying he can’t sleep. More than taking its toll on me physically (though I can’t say the wake up calls are exactly helping my eye wrinkles), it’s also just totally baffling my husband Sam and I. How do you explain to a three year old who, whilst he understands perfectly the difference between waking and sleeping, is still too young to know better than to roll over and try to go back to sleep. Sometimes he asks for milk (which I often give), sometimes he wants to sleep on our bedroom floor (he’s done this far too many times) but mainly he’s just awake, and sort of confused. As are we. We talk about it during the day as we do with any issue that comes up, but make no fail, it keeps happening.

He’s not cold (he wears two sets of pyjamas), he’s not hot (he’s always cold!), he’s not hungry (he always refuses more by the end of dinner), he’s not having nightmares (he’s always very calm and pretty content in his wakeful slumber!), he just cannot stay asleep. And unlike with a baby who you soothe and who will eventually go back to sleep because they probably are umm, tired, a three year old sleep regression just sparks actual like, real life conversations in the middle of the night.

In the end it’s usually resolved with a combination of repeatedly taking him back to his bed, a bottle of milk, putting an audio book on, lying on the floor next to him… You know what it’s like – whatever works…I’m pretty sure it’s just his wonderful little active mind working its’ wonders, anyway. Miraculously, he doesn’t seem to wake Sonny (they share a room) with his middle of the night shenanigans – not yet anyway (!)

My hunch tells me it’s a phase, as with most things with kids but still, I’d so appreciate any other parents’ wisdom here. Has your not so little one been through something similar? What changed it?

Thanks as ever for reading,

Emma xxx

P.S 10 tips for hassle free potty training

6 Comments

  1. Wendy
    February 16, 2018 / 8:20 am

    Yup! We’ve had the same. Our daughter was 3 in October.. I’ve also lost track of how long it’s been going for, but once she’s awake, she’s AWAKE! I’ll lie on her floor or get in her bed to help her go back off, but this can sometimes take HOURS! She’s content, and will just lie there waiting for sleep.. but to no avail! Bizarrely, this week has picked up with no real change to circumstances. Just one of those things I guess. Have you looked into the sour cherry advice from Lizzie loves healthy? Worth a shot! X

    • emmaross
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 5:32 pm

      Jack has also improved – thing a lot of it was that he needed a wee (!) Glad to hear your LO is improving and long may it last…! Will still check out Lizzie loves healthy re the cherry advice – intrigued!

  2. Jenn
    February 15, 2018 / 2:38 am

    Yessss we went through this when my son was 2 1/2 for nearly a year. I tried a sleep chart where he got a sticker every night he stayed in his own bed and then after 7, we went out for a treat. Ultimately, just talking it out and figuring out what he needed or figuring out a plan before bed (and practicing tucking himself back in) was the real winner. And making a big deal about it in the morning when he did stay in his bed. Good luck. It is soooo hard on mama. You got this!

    • emmaross
      Author
      February 15, 2018 / 7:07 pm

      thanks Jenn – it’s a weird one isn’t it when they’re no longer a baby but more wakeful than ever ! Thanks for the tips – tucking himself back in is the dream!!

  3. Kate Anderson
    February 14, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    My eldest did this to us at three. It went on for months and the only thing that broke it was him going to my parents for a couple of nights and moving his bedtime back by half an hour. For some reason the change of scenary broke him of it.

    • emmaross
      Author
      February 15, 2018 / 7:07 pm

      ok that’s interesting – just the change of scenery sorted him! might have to think about a trip to the grandparents..!

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