Our 4 year old doesn't like to sleep. I know that sounds like what every kid says, but let me clarify. She doesn't cry at bedtime, she just won't sleep.

We start to get her ready for bed around 8pm. By 8:30 she is in her bed, and the lights are off. Come 11pm when we go to sleep, she is still awake! Again, she isn't crying and as far as we can tell she isn't afraid (she does like the hall light on and the door cracked, so we do that).

Only occasional will she come out of her room, and it is usually for a sip of water or to go potty. Most of the time she returns back to her bed without a problem.

We find her in there playing with toys or looking at books. If we take all that away she will stay awake playing with her fingers or talking to herself. It doesn't matter if she was in the house all day, or played outside for hours on her bike. She just won't fall asleep. She always tells us she isn't tired.

We have tried soothing music but that doesn't work. If we try to stay with her until she sleeps, she just tries to talk to us. We don't talk back to her; she just tells us everything she wants to do tomorrow.

We thought it was because she would take a nap during the day, but we even stopped that. She doesn't sleep in late, and is up by 9:30 every day.

Is this normal? Do you have any ideas on how we can get her to sleep earlier? Do some kids just require less sleep?

  • 21
    Ahaha, I had to laugh at "She doesn't sleep in late, and is up by 9:30 every day." I think most parents would agree that a 4 year old sleeping till 9:30 is late. Most parents would also kill for such a luxury ;-) Jul 5, 2012 at 22:33
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    @ThomasPaine, I'm glad I had finished my coffee when I had read that same thing. If the kid isn't waking up till 9:30, no wonder she's not tired by 8:30 at night. That would be like my kid's being tired at 5:30 in the evening.
    – Kevin
    Jul 9, 2012 at 14:27
  • my son is 3 years old and he does'nt go to bed before 10 pm i dont let him sleep during the day time if he sleeps during the day he is up till 12 am at night tht is so frustating for me sometimes bcz he does'nt like to stay in room or on bed on his own sometimes i stays in room for hours but he does'nt sleeps for hour or so
    – user3446
    Nov 19, 2012 at 21:43

6 Answers 6


11 to 9:30 is ten and a half hours, which is plenty of sleep. My kids are up at 6:30, and go to sleep at about 8:30. I think that if you want to adjust her schedule, I would start by waking her up earlier.

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    Richard Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems talks about using light to adjust circadian rhythms. Make sure bedtime is dark and the morning when she should be up is bright, bright, bright!
    – justkt
    Jul 3, 2012 at 19:58

As long as they're getting enough sleep, and the schedule suits you, I wouldn't worry about it.

Our school-aged kids go to sleep long before the toddlers, just because they're worn out.

It actually helps to let the toddlers find their own sleep routine, and makes bedtime a lot less stressful, and in the end they settle better in the long run having learn to quietly get themselves to sleep. It's a lesson well learnt for them.

The other benefit to a later bedtime is a later morning start. With the hassles of early morning for the toddlers with the school kids, again, it's easier for them to sleep in a bit. That way the school kids get the attention they need in the morning, and afterwards the toddlers can have the attention they need throughout the day. As one of the comments says, most parents would love a child sleeping in til 9:30 - it's a blessing, not a curse.


If they are getting enough sleep then that's good, the only thing that is going wrong is the time they are going to sleep and waking up.

Set a routine to wake them up early at the same time every day and stick to it. In other words, no matter what happens make them wake up at the same time. If they wake up early they will sleep early. Wake them at 7am and within a few days they will start sleeping at 7pm as well.


We have tried many different ways of adjusting my four year old's sleep schedule and all have failed. He simply does not get sleepy before 9:30 pm. He gets enough sleep though so we have let it go. I must say that while it can be rough when you are tired from a long day at work and you just want some downtime it has some social benefits. Most of our friends have kids his age and his ability to stay up past 8 means we aren't rushing out the door after dinner like some parents.

We are probably setting ourselves up for a difficult time when he starts going to a proper 8-3 school but we'll address that as needed. Given 2 weeks you can change almost anything about your kid's behavior.


9:30 am is definitely a sleep in day for me! My kids are up for preschool by 6:30am (they wake up on their own) and they go to bed around 8pm with no problem. They are ages 2 and 4, and both also still nap 1-2 hours in the afternoon. If you want her to go to be earlier, she should be awake earlier....it's that simple. :-)


I suggest spirited games of "monster", "hide-and-seek", or any other game that get that child to run for an hour+. You'd might be amazed how quickly they crash. I was forced to take a kettle bell class in order to have the stamina for the games; the health benefits were an unexpected bonus.

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