The Amazing Pudding

Why do kids fight sleep?

Posted on: January 21, 2009

I’ve been a parent for nearly five months now, and I’m still baffled as to why kids fight so hard against sleep. It’s usually really obvious when they need to nap. They’re cranky, lethargic, uninterested in playing, and rubbing their eyes. Obviously, kids of toddler age and older can willfully disobey or resist their parents, but what about infants? Why do so many kids cry and scream when put down for a nap? It’s clear from their behavior that they need naps, and they are happy and refreshed upon awaking, so why fight? By some kids’ tantrums, you’d swear sleep is life-threatening. 

Any ideas?

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9 Responses to "Why do kids fight sleep?"

My first one didn’t like to sleep either. It got espcially hard when she learned to sit up. She’d sit up, but be too far out of it to know to lay down. The good part was you could walk into the room, push her over, and she’d fall back asleep.

My newest one, on the other hand, has never fought sleep. He goes right out. At least, that is, for me. My wife usually can’t get him to sleep. I figure she’s associated with food (breast feeding) and I’m associated with sleep.

If you’re having trouble, maybe you’re associated with something else. like play?

The thought of you pushing your daughter over conjured images of cow tipping. I guess this would be child tipping. 😉

It’s quite simple really. They just don’t want to be alone w/o you.

If that’s the case, why don’t they cry upon waking? DS calmly plays by or converses with himself for a while before getting or lonely. Only then does he cry.

My first child would not go to sleep without someone in the room, while my second is quite content to be alone to go to sleep. Of course, he doesn’t fight sleep either (exception if we’re out at nap time and there’s interesting stuff going on). Maybe there is a connection.

My first was quite attached for sleep to having someone there, even though she was quite content to play alone. She wasn’t truely alone, though, because once she realized she was alone, she’d always go looking for someone, and get quite upset if she didn’t find anyone where she expected them to be.

ATM, when just waking up, it is quite possible DS is not quite “with it” enough or too distracted to realize he’s alone.

Our son used to get very angry at Sleep. It gets capitalized because it seems to be a force worth battling. When Sleep would approach, he would get mad. Very mad. He would fight off Sleep with much force, determined not to let it get him. We learned he is an explorer, a people watcher, and an overall curious kid. He always wants to know what is going on, where everyone is, and wants never to miss anything. I think Sleep deprives him of this, and he knows it.
In recent months, however, he has relented and around 8 every night, goes down without battle. Curls up with a blanket, and goes right out.
I hope that phase reaches you soon!

They don’t cry upon waking because they aren’t cranky from being so tired!

I agree that this phenomenon is very intriguing in that it can be quite different for each kid. Tracy’s middle child, the 5 yo, goes to bed w/o any problems. The 2 yo and 8 yo are the ones that give us problems every now and then. Wish I had been around more for the 5 yo and 8 yo to see how they were when they were much younger.

I’d like to see statistics on identical twins, triplets, etc. to see how they differ in sleeping/fighting sleep/etc.

[…] night was a hard night for the family. For reasons unknown, DS was having trouble sleeping. First, he fought hard against being put to sleep. Then acouple hours later, he woke up screaming. I held him, patted his back, rocked him, and […]

[…] when my son is fighting sleep particularly hard, the only thing that calms him down is light patting of his bum. It works remarkably well. Any […]

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