Childhood Diseases

Posted by: EJ | 2011-02-22


Sleep deprivation

Good day dr,

I am starting to get very worried about my son''s (2.7yr) lack of sleep.

On a good night he will sleep from 20h00 - 04h00. He does not sleep during the day. Some nights are much worse and he will be up by 02h00 or 03h00. (all efforts to get him back to sleep fails.)

He used to sleep from 19h00 - 06h00. I have a bedtime routine that I have used since the beginning (eat, bath, read, sleep). The only change was taking him off the dummy which he still used at night time. This however has been more than 4 weeks ago and after two nights he no longer speaks or asks for the dummy.

Perhaps I should add that he does not appear tired or lethargic with this lack of sleep.

Please help. I am very worried that his resistance to illnesses will be very low if he does not get enough sleep.

Thank you.

Expert's Reply



This is a bit unusual in that your son previously had a good sleeping routine. I am not concerned about his lack of sleep during the day as many very clever children seem to stop their daytime sleep at an early age.He is getting about 8 hours sleep a night and according to the usual recommendations he needs about 12 hours per day.Every child is different as regards their sleep needs.Your little boy seems to coping well with his early rising routine. This should not affect his resistance to infection

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Posted by: PUrple | 2011-02-22

My son had very similar sleeping patterns at that age.

I''ve also been a firm believer in bed time routine and did everything you describe here. However, my son never had a dummy so that wasn''t a relevant factor for us.

I went to the peadiatrician, we tried sleep training (after 2 weeks of all night screaming the paed said he''d never heard of anything like it and told us to stop before we really did cause trauma). (we were consistent about it and did it properly, using the book recommended by our pead and under his guidance).

We never did find a cure, he just kind of grew out of it as he got older. He''s now 7 and sleeps through most nights. If he doesnt sleep through, he no longer wakes us up though, just tells us in the morning.

What we did eventually do in desperation was put him to bed in his own bed, and then when he woke int he early hours, we''d put him in our bed, that way we all actually got some sleep. The purists will tell you how awful this is to do, but for your sanity, it might be worth trying. About once a month he still crawls in with us, but it is happening less and less often as he gets older - he takes pride in having his own space and doesn''t want to be a " baby"  - his words and sleep in our bed.

He also gave up his day time nap at least two years before any other child we know. He goes to bed at 8 now (I demand an evening of adult time) and he wakes at around 5ish, but we have taught him how to turn the TV on, and we sleep in till 6 and he watches kiddies channels or plays on his games console. Not ideal but the best solution we can find.

Good luck, I hope things work out better for you than they did for us. I came to the realisation through this that sleep " experts"  don''t actually have children or they have ones that sleep more than average so they think they know everything about it. I have come to the conclusion that some children actually just sleep less than others. My son is also bright eyed and bushy tailed all day despite his lack of sleep. He has no concentration problems at school (he''s doing very well).

What we did do that helped was to start him with organised sport as soon as clubs would take him - so at 4 he started both karate and soccer. We found that on those nights he went to sleep beautifully and slepst till later in the morning (about 3 a.m).
I also insisted, from when he was a baby that he spend all afternoon outside playing outside and running as much as possible and then we would wind down from 5pm with puzzles and so on. I found this mildly helpful -when he''s physically tired and clamed well before bed time we had less struggles about bed time itself.

I also made sure there was a non spill cup of water on my sons bed side table to avoid the calls for water during the night. Now, even when he sleeps over with friends he''ll pack his own non spill cup to take to bed with him at the friends house.

Good luck. I hope you find a solution.

Reply to PUrple

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