A reader writes:
Dear Dr. Rosen,
During my research into why one of my three-year-old twin daughters' is having sleeping issues, I came across an article of yours in Psychology Today and I am contacting you in the hope you might be able to offer us some much needed guidance.
Neither of my twin daughters has ever been fantastic sleepers since they were born. However twin #1 has started to sleep through the night for approximately the last five months.
Their evening routine consists of:
- Dinner at 5pm
- Relaxing bubble bath at 6pm
- Milk at 7pm
- Story in bed at 7.30pm
(No naps during the day)
(They both share a room/double bed, have their teddies in the bed)
However, twin #2 (Sally) is absolutely adamant she does not want sleep, no matter how tired she is. She cries and cries and screams that she is scared, so I have to sit on her bedroom floor (while she begs me to sleep with her in bed or hold her hand) until she eventually falls asleep. Then throughout the night (minimum of five times) she will wake up screaming for mummy. So I either sit on her bed until she falls asleep or shout at her to fall asleep. And then listen to her cry until she does. During this nighttime period I have tried different techniques: ignoring her, being nice to her, shouting at her, holding her hand, sitting in her room (chair or floor), sleeping with her, laying next to her until she falls back asleep, literally everything I can think of or have read up upon. The girls have a night light in their room, a teddy which projects stars onto the ceiling, and since a few months ago Sally has been adamant in leaving her room door open with the landing light on outside. I have tried explained to Sally that monsters, etc. are pretend and do not exist.
I have tired either emphasizing the importance of sleeping throughout the night to Sally and also on the other scale I have at times not to make a big deal out of it. I have tried to encourage her to sleep with rewards and treats but nothing has worked.
My twin girls are my entire world and mean absolutely everything to me. This entire situation is not fair on Sally nor myself. After nearly three and a half years of not being able to have a decent nights' sleep I am sincerely asking you for your help. I really do appreciate that you must be inundated with daily queries from parents regarding children and their sleep but I would really, really, appreciate your advice.
Sleepless in Seattle