My son is 5 and a typical night-owl he becomes pretty active when sun goes down. This is all well and good but when we put him to bed we can hear him play until at least 11 pm. That wouldn't worry me as much if he was napping during the day but that isn't the case. We have to wake him up in the morning and it's pretty hard for him but when he gets going there doesn't appear to be any ill-effects but I am concerned that he doesn't get enough sleep.

Any way to deal with that?

  • Does he has a chance for a nap during the day? If so, and he still doesn't nap, he probably gets enough sleep. Feb 28, 2012 at 6:57
  • He doesn't have a chance to nap
    – Karlson
    Feb 28, 2012 at 13:15
  • Wow these are great ideas, thanks guys. I've been having the same problem with my little guy. Who just turn 6. We've always had a routine and strict boundaaries. He would lay in the bed quietly unil after 1am sometimes which is how I ended up here. I realize he is just a niight person. I'm not worried anymore. Thanks guys
    – user2688
    Jun 9, 2012 at 0:52

5 Answers 5


As I tend to do around here, here's something nobody has mentioned: It might just be who he is.

Of my kids, 3 of them (20, 18, 10) are normal. My 8 is a morning person. Regardless of bedtime, like staying up late on Friday watchin movies, he's up at 6:30 on Saturday. He also sleeps the heaviest and is easiest to wake up on school days.

Conversely, his 6yo sister is a night person. She will lay in her bed singing quietly (not every night) till 11 even on a school night. Even on nights when they're in bed on time and she's asleep by 10, she's the hardest to wake up at 7:30 on weekdays.

It's really hard to do anything more disciplinary with her as she's doing everything ok . . . general evening routine, routine bedtime, routine get ready actions. Then she's in bed, in the dark (shades down but there's some outside light), leaving her sleeping sister alone, not playing with toys, minding her own business.

Anyway, the point is that it may just be his personality. It's possible, that you'll never "break" him of it, but you should absolutely establish routine and time-based boundaries. At some point, as long as he's within the established parameters, you may just have to let him be him.


Put simply - don't allow him to stay up and play that late.

Unfortunately, it isn't always that easy. Other than Andrei's good tips about late afternoon/early evening activity, here are some more suggestions to help (we've got a 5 year old who hates to sleep too).

  • No toys in the bedroom. Remove as many distractions as possible.
  • Get a routine and stick to it. Dinner, bath, read a book, tuck in - etc.
  • In the beginning, stay with him while he goes to sleep. Lights out, no talking, just quiet.

We were fortunate with our little guy - he wanted mom or dad to lay down with him for a spell around age 4, so we could use that to encourage relaxation - we would only stay as long as he was quiet and calm. There were nights he was still too wound up to sleep so we did occasionally have to resort to punishments - Taking a favorite toy away for the following day if he didn't stay quiet, for instance.

More recently we added reading a bit of a chapter book to him at bed time. At first this got him in trouble a bit again - bouncing around the bed, being too active. Strictly enforcing some rules like you must lay down while we read and no interruptions not related to the story seems to have fixed it though - now it's not unheard of to read him to sleep, and when that doesn't happen he still often goes to sleep quietly within a few minutes of tucking him in and turning off the lights.

  • 1
    Your first bullet point is hard to follow - our son's toys must be in his room because there's nowhere else to put them (except the living room?). It sounds like your son has a bedroom and a play room, or you've got a huge living room. The other two bullets are gold, though! Feb 23, 2012 at 21:26
  • @TorbenGundtofte-Bruun I thought about adding that condition - I understand not everyone has the room to spare. Maybe some storage solution so they can be put away a bit? Everyone with limited space would have to try and adapt that bullet point as best they can.
    – Saiboogu
    Feb 23, 2012 at 23:22
  • If I would say my middle daughter (4y) to go to bed without a pack of dolls, there will be no sleep for hours, only crying. But I should limit their number and help her to organize the sleeping place, or there won't be place for her in the bed.
    – Gangnus
    Feb 24, 2012 at 10:44
  • @Gangnus Those are like stuffed animals - comfort items for sleeping. I'll try and update my answer some today to account for the comments here.
    – Saiboogu
    Feb 24, 2012 at 14:03
  • @Saiboogu Darkness is not a problem for him he's been sleeping in the dark since day 1.
    – Karlson
    Feb 25, 2012 at 3:23

Our child is also five, so first off; My condolences.

We've discovered two main things that keep him getting actually tired at bed time:

First. If we can really get him to run around in the 4-5:30 time frame (about 1-2 hrs before dinner) he really burns up energy. Second. We try to keep his dinner solidly at least 90 minutes before bed.

We've had him on the same bed time for the past 2 years. We started with turning the light off and staying with him until he fell asleep. (Hard years) Then turning off the light and leaving. Finally, we were able to trust him with a book and turning his own light off.

The latter usually results in him falling asleep with the light still on.

  • What I am describing happens after about an hour of karate practice.
    – Karlson
    Feb 24, 2012 at 3:38
  • +1 A child that's really active during the day won't be able to stay awake late. Good solid advice on both points.
    – Walter
    Mar 9, 2012 at 14:50

( Maybe, he is having a wild hour before going to bed? Then it should be stopped. Are not these karate lessons too late? Maybe he has not enough time to turn off? )

As for normal days ( I don't think you have karate daily), I think, he simply needs your attention.

  1. Often it happened that one of our elder girls (6,4) was too full of energy and constantly tried to do something, even being in bed with lights off. Then I simply told her to lay on the side, to put her hands under the cheek, laid myself behind her and hold her tightly. Sometimes a pair of lullabyes or poems or a fairy-tales helps. Often I needn't them. Have you seen an ape's child to sleep alone? He feels bad deply inside and has to compensate it by night plays.

  2. For half a year we have started a new system - every evening before sleeping I go to bed with a child and we are studying something. That has two pluses - what is remembered before sleep, is remembered well - and my middle daughter of 4 is getting tired soon and after lights off sleeps in 1-5 minutes.

  3. Maybe he sleeps too long in the morning or at day? Every person has his/her own norm of sleep.

  • Practice ends about 6 and 2 days karate, and 2 days gymnastics.
    – Karlson
    Feb 25, 2012 at 3:21

I realize that you have accepted an answer already, but nonetheless some comments are in order.

First, a note. I strongly suspect that the afternoon activities are not tiring enough. Tell the coaches to really take it to him.

You are worrying about the wrong thing. Kids sleep when they are tired. If he isn't tired, of well. What you need to train him in is QUIET TIME. Even if he isn't ready to sleep, make a rule that after (say) 8pm is Mommy and Daddy time. If he is awake, he is expected to say in his room and not be loud. He can read books, play, etc., but he has to be quiet and let Mommy and Daddy alone.

This approach worked like a charm with my daughter, who is now 20, and had similar issues when she was age 2 through grade school. The issue came and went in phases. We also had to make a similar rule for the morning. We started putting some cereal in a zip lock baggie in a bowl and some milk in a toddler cup in the fridge so she could make her own breakfast for those mornings where we didn't want to see the sun rise.

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