October 25, 2023

A Nightmare on Our Street

Just in time for Halloween, it seems as if Freddy Kruger has taken up residence in our basement.  In case you haven't seen the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, let me summarize: creepy, dead ex-janitor terrorizes teens in their dreams, making them unwilling to go to sleep, for fear succumbing to the razor-sharp knife/glove of Freddy Kruger.

All kidding aside, how does this translate to our house?  We've been having major sleeping issues with Soren, who all of a sudden cannot go to sleep without one of his parents lying down with him each night.   While there's nothing really wrong with that, and I know that 3 is an age where imaginations take off (which is both good and bad), it's challenging because it sometimes takes him an hour to drift off.
It's difficult for Chris and me, especially since Soren is so spirited and consuming of our own energy during waking hours, and now it's becoming that way at night.  Once a formerly good sleeper, S has also been waking during the night, and waking for the day anywhere from 3:30am until 5:30.  It is exhausting, especially coupled with Jude's nighttime wakings. 

Lack of sleep unfortunately is an impetus for losing my head.  I'm grumpier than my usual morning grumpiness and tend to lack ability to censor my emotions around S.  Then I end up feeling guilty all day for snapping at him.

On a deeper level, I know this is a phase quite common to preschoolers who can't shut off their imaginations when the lights go out.  And speaking of lights, we've had a parade of all kinds of night lights and flash lights to help transition our son into sleep.  No good luck charms there.  Mommy or daddy seems to be the security blanket of choice.

So until he outgrows this, I'm unsure what to do.  I've tried having him sleep in the bed with me, though I get no sleep due to his thrashing about.  I also find that his energy affects me, even at night, and I have trouble drifting off myself.  I'm also concerned that allowing him to sleep in our bed might reinforce the idea that his room is scary.

On that subject, he's suddenly afraid of his room and bed, even during the day.  I've tried asking him why, but he isn't specific about what bothers him.  I'm thinking that Halloween decorations around town might be a cause, as he's both excited about and fearful of them (at least at night).  I do try and spend non-sleeping time with him in his room, just to be comfortable there.  Maybe it's just something that will pass on its own.

Has your preschooler been having nighttime issues?  What have you done to soothe and help them?


  1. Both of my kids went through a little spell like that as well. For my son I gave him one of my shirts that I had worn so he had something that smelled like me. We also had "Monster Spray" -- just water in a gussied up spray bottle and we would spray it around his room together...kept the monsters and the bad dreams away. Good luck...I kind of miss those snuggle times though ;)

  2. Oh gosh! Charlie's needed a little extra help in the nighttime routine than her "usual" lately. I wonder if that'll be her new normal. She woke at 1:30 the other morning and stumbled out to the bathroom mumbling about going potty {she was already wet though} and it took a while to convince her that it was still bedtime. She hasn't been afraid so much, just stalling more than anything.

    I hope Soren's fears subside quickly and you get some rest. I know the snappy guilt can be overwhelming.

  3. Wow. This sounds really hard. Kidoodle has been more wakeful at night lately, but I think it's because he often misses his nap. Early mornings and fitful nights sound exhausting. It sounds like you've tried out some really good solutions. Good luck finding something that clicks!
    On a related topic, I personally dislike many Halloween themed children's programs. We were playing on PBSkids today, and had to leave the site because the Halloween video clips were frightening Kidoodle. On the other hand, I am glad his introductions to "fright night" are safe and often contained, if not constructive.

  4. Oh dear...It sounds like S is definitely going through one of those phases kids go through-I wish I knew what to tell you!

    All I can think of is hang in there and hopefully it passes soon >.<

  5. Oh gosh, I am so sorry you have having trouble with his sleeping (or that he is lol). I have no advice, just sympathy, as I went through this with my daughter.

  6. Jasper doesn't have nightmares, but he does want to sleep with me every single night, which is getting old. He'll let me put him down in his bed but creeps upstairs when I'm sound asleep and won't argue. I think SoJo is going through a phase, which doesn't make it any easier for you, I know. Hopefully you can at least take comfort in the fact that it's not just him!

  7. When it came to nighttime, I was selfish, and I can't help but wonder if my kids picked up from the get-go that mama wasn't a night person. They never went through the same thing Soren is. I hope it ends soon for you!

  8. My son went through a phase like this around 3 when we moved him to a big boy bed and again at 3 1/2 when he became a big brother. I think the changes definitely had something to do with it! We had a lot of tough nights with crying and begging to come back downstairs even after I would stay with him for upwards of 45 min to try to get him to sleep, so I feel your pain! We had to do a little tough love after a certain point, and just let him cry or sit at the top of the steps alone (gated of course). He would eventually get back in bed. He is 4 1/2 now and has pretty much grown out of it although he still asks me every night if I will lay down next to him for a few minutes. I don't do it every night, but sometimes he needs a little extra TLC. I put a limit on it though (e.g. one or two songs on the CD player). Best of luck with your little one!

  9. I just realized this is a post from October! Hope your little one has been a better sleeper!


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