Anger and Sleep Struggles.

I’ve been kind of angry lately. I get crabby after too many nights with little to no sleep, and that seems to have been a theme over the last couple of weeks. I’m pretty tolerant of sleep disturbances, but five times per night for weeks or months on end, and I eventually feel like I’m going to snap. Oh, and did I mention that I’m not talking about Adele? Nope. I wish I were. Adele does still nurse anywhere from 2 times per night to 6 times per night, so there’s that to consider as well. But the child pushing me to the brink is actually CeCe, my 5 year old.

CeCe has never been a great sleeper. Heck, who am I kidding? She’s never been even a slightly decent sleeper. She nursed every 30-60 minutes at night her entire first year. She makes Adele look like a champion in the sleep Olympics. I have a LOT of grace for nighttime wake-ups from babies and toddlers. A lot. I don’t push my kids to sleep, and this worked just fine with the twins. They slept progressively better at night as they grew, until the eventually slept through the night and have slept very well ever since. Even Adele, with her frequent nighttime nursing, is slowly but surely sleeping better the older she gets. However, CeCe never went through this progression.

After every bad night, we say WE HAVE TO FIGURE SOMETHING OUT! But the thing is, I just don’t know what to do. We’ve tried everything: no sugar or caffeine before bed, a regular, soothing bedtime routine, a warm bath, books, never any naps, and so on. When she wakes up we comfort her, pray with her if she’s scared, and tuck her back in. We are trying to be consistent with her staying in her own room, rather than co-sleeping, but it’s hard.

Every night, she wakes up screaming. Well, more like crying really, really loudly. We ask her what’s wrong, and she either mumbles unintelligibly, or says I don’t know what’s the matterrrrrrrr! Then there are the multiple wake-ups where she needs covered up, a drink of water (although she usually refuses it if we bring her some) plus a myriad of other reasons. If I let her sleep with us, it’s nearly impossible to console the twins, because they are so near CeCe in age that they all do everything together. Which is another aspect of this ridiculous, difficult situation. They all sleep together. Well, as of last week, Cade is on his own top bunk and the girls are together in the full bed on the bottom. When CeCe wakes up crying, or when we try to just leave her to cry until she (hopefully) falls asleep in exhaustion, she wakes everyone else up.

My feelings on all of this cycle. I am always frustrated by her lack of sleeping through the night, but sometimes I am literally filled with anger towards my 5 year old daughter. Once the anger subsides, I feel guilty for feeling angry with a 5 year old. I wonder if there is something causing her sleeplessness, so I google. I find that rarely, kids can have real sleep disorders. I find recommendations to do all of the things I have mentioned above that we have already tried. I find that sleep disturbances can be a side effect to horrible things like abuse and serious brain issues, which after reading I feel nauseous and worried. I worry that she is just manipulating us to get what she wants, which is to always sleep with us. But then I think, what if she really does have a sleep issue and I’m not helping her the way she needs me to? It’s my job as her mom to help her, take care of her, and advocate for her.

I wish I had a happy ending for all of this. More than anything, I wish I could offer other parents struggling with sleep issues with their children beyond the baby years a solution. But, I have no idea what to do. We are struggling with little sleep, and are unsure of what to try. If you have ever dealt with a child with sleep issues, I would love to hear any tips or advice. We are very open to suggestions at this point. I am considering giving her a small dose of melatonin, but I haven’t yet come to any conclusive evidence that it is safe for a child CeCe’s age. If you posses any wisdom on this issue, do please share it with me in the comment section!

No Comments

  1. Franny -  October 26, 2012 - 9:13 am

    I do not have a child myself that doesn’t sleep well, (well, any worse then a typical 6 month old) but I can say as I child I had sleep issues. I never had a full night of sleep until I was in my 20’s and started taking sleep aides. As I child I would wake up many times during the night. Usually from a nightmare or being afraid of something. Although I’m sure she has a better homelife then I had, she may be having night terrors? Afraid of the dark? Scared? I’m sure you’ve asked her many times.. But maybe you could ask for outside help? I believe if my Mom would have taken a more proactive approach to my sleep issues as I child, I wouldn’t have them as an adult. I hope she starts sleeping for you! Being a new mom I fully understand the anger that comes with lack of sleep.

    • Kelli -  October 26, 2012 - 9:29 am

      Hi Franny! Thank you so much for your response. What you shared is exactly what I fear: that by me not knowing what to do to help her, she will deal with these issues her entire life. I’ve held off for so long because I have always assumed that surely she would sleep better eventually, but since that’s not happening, I am realizing we have a problem. So anyway, I am truly thankful for your perspective. I may be making an appointment with our doctor after all.

  2. Miranda -  October 26, 2012 - 9:51 am

    I was diagnosed as a chronic insomniac at the age of 3, my mother said I did not sleep through the night till the age of 10. My mother would not medicate me, thinking I’d surely grow out of this “stage”. I struggled horribly in school due to a complete lack of sleep, I missed a ton of school being over-tired. Still she refused to medicate me (which she was right not to do, who gives a child sleeping pills?) anyway after I turned 18 I started trying to self medicate myself to sleep, due to feelings of insanity, finally I was tired of it. I went to a sleep specialist who finally re-diagnosed me again with chronic insomnia, and prescribed me sleeping meds, that was 10 years ago, I can still remember that first night of sleep perfectly,and have been taking those meds every night since. Sleep is amazing and life-changing when you have never experienced it. Just remember to be patient and understanding, and realize this may be a problem she is permanently has to deal and struggle with every day for her entire life, my mother did a good job of this, the best you can do with a complete lack of sleep yourself, did she get angry at me sometimes? Yes, definitely, did she lock her door one night for around 5 minutes while I screamed and cried outside of it and she cried inside of it, yes. Was I permantly traumatized, no, absolutely not. Anyway good luck to both you and her i hope this is something she grows out of it, but if not, tell her there is hope!

  3. Amy -  October 26, 2012 - 10:20 am

    She could be having low blood sugar. One of my daughters is a poor sleeper as well. Make sure she doesn’t go to bed hungry. Give her a good protein snack before bed. If you are hypoglycemic it messes up cortisol levels and high nighttime cortisol causes you to wake up in the night. A great book to read is The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. But if she is waking up really upset, there is a good chance it’s low blood sugar!

  4. Heidi -  October 26, 2012 - 1:01 pm

    My daughter Christiana has sleeping problems. She is a violent, screaming, crying, singing and talkative sleeper. Sometimes they are night terrors but sometimes it’s just very active sleep. I do not have any advice for you and I’m sorry I’m not much help. When Christiana stays up late or is over tired she sleeps worse. But hearing a 7 year old screaming in the middle of the night is terrifying. Even worse is since the girls share a room sometimes I have to attention a 7 AND 2 year old. It’s stressful and if you ever do find a solution please do share.

  5. Becky Rhoades -  October 27, 2012 - 7:36 am

    My son is 2.5 years old ans has never slept well…we get these nights here and there where he sleeps the whole night but to be honest that happens MAYBE once a month…I would love to know how to help him…we tried no nap during the day to get him to sleep all night…didn’t work. My mother told me I was at least 7 before I was a good sleeper (more nights sleeping than waking). We get many people telling us to let him CIO but he literally would sit in his room and cry for hours. If he just cried for a few min it would be different, but he doesn’t. I don’t know what to do either.

  6. _mamabird -  October 27, 2012 - 2:26 pm

    I wish I had advice for you. My only thought is to take her to a sleep specialist. Maybe they can give you an answer, treatment options, and then you can do mounds of research yourself with at least a direction on what to research. Endsley hasn’t had a decent nights sleep … It’s been a long time. She once sttn around four months. Lol. Just once. I understand your anger. There are times that I am an incredibly mean person because of my lack of sleep. You’ll figure it out, it’ll get better.

  7. Shelley Payton -  October 28, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    This might take a while but perhaps a journal of some sort, jot down food she’s eating, amount of exercise, movies she watches, and see if there is any sort of pattern that makes her sleeping worse? A certain food or show?

  8. Joy -  October 30, 2012 - 11:20 pm

    THat sounded like me when I was Little. THat can be a syptom of A.D.D./A.D.H.D. I do not know your daughter, but that might be something to look into.

  9. shaela -  November 2, 2012 - 4:18 pm

    We are in similar situations! I wish I had advice but I only offer my empathy. I have a 3.5yo and a 19mo. My 3.5yo stopped taking naps (although I use the term ‘nap’ loosely since her naps have never lasted more than an hour) at 2yo and now she will nap probably once or twice a month. She has phases of poor night sleep, waking several times crying, Daddy goes in to comfort her, sleep for 30 min, wake up crying again. The phases last a week or two and then pass. They happen every couple of months. Right now, I’m still BFing and cosleeping with my 19mo and he has yet to STTN. Like you, after weeks/months of waking constantly through the night, I reach a breaking point. This week has been mine. It is a struggle to make it through the day on 2hrs of sleep. I’ve been waiting for that magical time when he will be at the age to start sleeping longer than a 3hr stretch but he hasn’t gotten there yet. I’m conflicted as to what I should do – night wean him, end cosleeping, sleep train *shudder* – but truth is a) I feel like all of those options would mean I’d lose even MORE sleep and b) I’m not ready to give up my baby. Best of luck, mama. You aren’t alone!

  10. Ashley McLaughlin -  November 3, 2012 - 9:38 am

    This sounds a lot like my two boys…one finally started sleeping through the night at 4 and the other just recently..but he still wakes up quite often…my biggest suggestion would be to have her allergy tested…sounds weird but my middle son never slept not even as a baby he never mapped always cried and was honestly exhausting until about 1.5 years ago when we got him tested and knew what foods to eliminate. Food allergies show up in the most weird ways.. He would get stuffy and itchy and almost hyperactive all day and once we found the foods that he was intolerant of it was like the heavens parted he’s a new kid.. Another could be over exhaustion…if she’s an always on the go kid and doesn’t nap maybe try starting bedtime a little earlier..really enforcing a quiet time during the day and even starting dinner time a little earlier so she has an adequet time to calm down before bed..good luck…know there is a light at the end of the tunnel(even tho it seems never ending) and really think about the allergy testing..her little body just may be unbalanced…I would also look into kids calm nature calm..just thought of’s an awesome!!!!! Vitamin that has tons of whole foods but also high levels of magnesium and other minerals that kids have a hard time absorbing (these are natural calming agents) good luck lady! Prayers to you!!!

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