So I had asked why my 3yo takes 70-90 minutes to fall asleep—At night and nap time. When asked why he doesn’t sleep sooner he has stated he doesn’t know how to sleep.
It is obvious he does not get enough sleep as he doesn’t want to wake at nap. When he looks tired, he acts tired, and he is cranky, he continues to fight the sleep, wasting valuable hours in his crib.
He has a regular sleep routine. He is put down at 1pm and naps 2-4 but recently I have been waking him at 3:30-3:45. At night he is put down between 7:45 and 8pm but doesn’t sleep util 9:30 on average—sometimes as late as 9:45. He sometimes wakes as early as 5:30 but on average he wakes at 6:15. He wakes spontaneously 95% of time in am but ALWAYS has to be woken from nap.
He doesn’t use screens after 4pm and has limited use in general. Days he gets significant physical activity (i.e. walking the zoo grounds) makes no difference. However, days he swims outdoors (but not with indoor swim lessons) he sleeps at nap time very fast. He has TWO white noise machines. Guided meditation has been tried only 1-2x as he seems fascinated by the voice. Though, maybe the right meditation has not been found.
He has been weaned from 3 hr nap to 2hr over past 6 months. He used to take a giant 4.5 hour nap up to 18 months which has been reduced to current state. Reducing nap any further makes him overtired at night and he still doesn’t sleep. Taking nap away completely makes him a monster and he crashes the next afternoon as he lives for the afternoon nap, but these days he takes an hour to fall asleep at nap time too.
Over the weekend I slept on a mattress in his room with him to get a sense of if he is scared. He squirms around and tells himself stories—and that is true regardless of whether there is a person in room as I watch him on monitor. I basically yelled at him to cut it out and put his cheek on mattress, close his eyes and breath slowly. He did it and went to sleep immediately. It’s as if he just needs a hard reset to stop being mentally active. He sleeps very soundly once sleeping at nap time but overnight sleep seemed more restless.
My question is:
Is his internal clock set to sleep very soundly at nap and should I give him back a longer nap, though given he will go to school 3 days a week this seems impractical. I’ve been told kids adjust to new routines, but he seems to not be adjusting (to reduced nap) even after six months of active effort.
What can we do to help him sleep faster so that he is spontaneously waking fully rested at both nap and sleep time.
What do you make of his falling asleep and “snapping out of” mental activity with a stern talking to? It’s not something I want to do regularly. Is there a gentle alternative that would perform a similar action?