My 4-year-old son gets up every night to go to the bathroom. When he goes back to bed, he has trouble falling back asleep and will either talk, sing or play until he does and that sometimes takes hours.

I'm glad he knows when to get up to go to the bathroom and doesn't wet the bed, but I am worried he is not getting enough sleep. It has started to affect his behavior during the day and this has now been going on for weeks.

Does anyone have some suggestions on how I can help him get back to sleep better?


Teach him that bedtime is quiet time. This is going to be very similar to getting him to go to sleep in the first place.

  • Stay in bed
  • sshhhh! No noise
  • No playing with toys
  • He may have a sip of water, but no food
  • Lights out, no tv, mobile, or other electronics

Try to come up with one thing he can have (one time), like a few pages in whatever book you are reading. And that's it. It will take a little while for him to become accustomed to it, but he will.

  • 2
    This is right - you have to teach him what is appropriate and how to sleep, by setting up the proper rules and boundaries that he is not allowed to cross. Then when he's older he will know by himself what to do in order to sleep, because you used to require it as a rule. – Demis Mar 14 at 6:28
  • Routine. Here is a sip of water. Let's say prayers again, turn out light. – ggb667 Mar 18 at 13:01
  • I agree this answer fits the situation best (unless this has already been tried) I sometimes have to shush my daughter, tell her to keep still, tell her to close her eyes, make her put her arms down, etc when she's restless at bed time. If she is up in the night we usually give her a cuddle for 5 mins before going back to bed and she's usually asleep by that time. – Smock Mar 22 at 14:26

Honestly, this sounds normal to me at this age. I recall when my then-4-year-old would wake up occasionally, and take what seemed like hours to go back to sleep.

A couple of things to look into:

  • Does he drink a lot of fluids too close to bedtime? This is worth adjusting.
  • Do you encourage him to visit the potty prior to getting into bed?

On the bright side, this sounds a lot better than others I've heard of wherein the child runs into the parents' bedroom in the middle of the night whereas your boy sounds self-sufficient.

Other things to ensure if possible:

  • there aren't any noises that might be waking him up in the middle of the night
  • the room is sufficiently dark (use blackout curtains if necessary)
  • use an Echo Dot (say "Alexa, play rain sounds", "Loop") or a similar device to get a sound machine in the environment to black out noises
  • Not sure about the Echo Dot - my 4 yr old knows how to operate Alexa! – Smock Mar 22 at 14:20
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    You can use the app to put it in "kid mode" so it won't respond to commands within the hours you set. – scorpiodawg Mar 22 at 22:49

I'd suggest you to speak with psychiatrists/psychologists/experts about it, or maybe research a little bit and then post your question on Psychology & Neuroscience.

I have problems with sleeping since I have been working on projects that have so much to do with thinking, and have seen many colleagues of mine with similar not-sleeping-well problems, yet we are adults. In my case, it wasn't a problem when I was a child. Since our jobs are related to so much thinking, we just don't sleep well and sometimes we are sleep-working, which means we are not really at full-sleep and as we are at semi-sleep stage, we are solving an "algorithm" or "equation".

I suspect that your son may seem to be also a young thinker of some sorts, since he reflects on "talking" and "singing". I would not worry about it much, but I would not try to control it too much either.

You can pay attention to see if during the day, he thinks much. If thinking might be a case for your son, you can try to make him active to do actions so that he becomes tried, and he will go to sleep. Sports and plays with other friends might be a good idea and letting him to be alone or play alone may not be.

Overall, this may be best addressed speaking to professionals.

Best wishes!

  • 1
    Hi Emma and welcome to Parenting.SE! An answer is not the appropriate place to tell OPs to post their question on another stack. I'm also not sure it could be turned into an on topic question there. Do you have experience with 4-year-olds and their sleep problems, or is this advice solely derived from your experience as an adult and with adults? How to find out if the 4-year-old's waking up is based on too much thinking? – Anne Daunted Mar 16 at 13:34
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    I think this is overthinking (pardon the pun) the situation. OP doesn't say the kid wakes up because they are thinking to hard, it's getting back to sleep that is an issue. I honestly think the answer about bedtime routine fits best in this situation - certainly until it's been tried for a few weeks. – Smock Mar 22 at 14:23

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