Pre-schooler Sleep Issues During Fires, Covid

I’m looking for feedback on whether your kids are struggling with sleep right now. Has it become erratic? What’s helping you?

We moved at the start of the pandemic and my child is in her own room, for the first time. It’s close to ours, but she’s really stumbled with both going to sleep and sleeping through the night. Bad dreams, or not enough excercise, especially this week stuck inside. Many times, when she wakes, she’s up from 3am.. til 6am. This has been hard. 

We’ve used melatonin to get her to sleep so she’s not taking 2-3 hours to fall asleep. We’ve done sleep training throughout her life. But she’s particularly scared of fires (first really bad dream here was about fires in her school, many months ago :(. We don’t want to over use melatonin, nor do we want to be so severe in sleep training during this time, but open to what makes sense.  We’ve let her have books in bed to cycle down, or slept by her bed or have her come in with us, with a really bad dream or night. We want to stop a lot of that within reason but with these times, it’s felt like the best thing in the moment. 

We’re struggling with whether to be just plain rigorously consistent in never staying there or letting her in bed, no books, and only check in’s (like extinction method), or perhaps continuing to really meet the trauma needs and knowing this is a long game, and offshoot because of this hard season. Thankfully, she’s a pretty well adjusted in this time, although beyond bored this week (no matter the exercise, obstacle course, etc). 

Really want her to get good rest, and us too. It’s been hard. 

Thanks for what’s worked for you. 

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Hi there,

I’m so sorry to hear about these sleep struggles! I’d highly recommend consulting with a professional sleep coach - we’ve used Darrah Torres of Sleep Wise Consulting in the past and she’s been incredible. Any bumps in the road, I always go back to her.

Good luck!


Ugh, I’m sorry! This is such a tough one. My daughter went through the same around 3 when we moved her into a bed. Up for hours in the MOTN, often with tantrums. Every night for months, without fail. Our younger son was 6 months at the time so we were desperate for sleep and tried everything, sleep training wise. What eventually worked was a combination of several things, and I think also just passing through the phase (although I will say, she’s almost 5 now and still up 2-3 times a week but they’re usually brief wake ups unless we’re traveling or she’s sick- but in general much easier to deal with). Like you described, we struggled with whether we should just give in and lay with her every night or do some sort of sleep training. We did both for awhile which didn’t work. Finally we asked her what she needed to feel ok in the night and over a couple weeks she came up with: a special buddy (stuffed animal), soft blanket, sleeping with one of my t-shirts, a nightlight, and a light on in the hallway. I also told her she could call out one time for reassurance but no more after that. We also did a reward chart- the first couple nights when she finally slept through I gave her a little treat in the morning for immediate gratification and a sticker towards a larger goal (picking out a toy). I know, this sounds like a million things and maybe overindulgent, and it probably was, but we were all desperate for sleep and basically not functioning- I was sick for 3 months straight during the worst of it due to exhaustion! Anyway, involving her in the process seemed to help and at least gave us a little more insight into her mind during this whole ordeal. Good luck, and I really hope you get some rest soon! Oh, we also got her an ok to wake clock and explained how important sleep is for our bodies/minds- I got a few picture books on the topic too- the llama llama goodnight one was good at that age.