Sleep diaries: Sleeping with... a three-year-old

'I wonder how people go on to have more children - I feel too wretched and exhausted!'

Sleep - we all need it, and most of us wish we were getting more of it!

Whatever your sleep problems might be, they usually seem amplified when you have children. Not only are you worrying about how to get the kids to sleep, your own sleep gets disturbed throughout the night when they're inevitably up and out of bed.

We've always been curious about how much sleep other mums actually get, so we've enlisted a group of real parents to record a week of night time routines so that we can all be jealous (or sympathetic!) about the amount of shut eye they're squeezing in.

Here Charlotte Story, 36, tells us about her nightly battles with her daughter Olwen, who's about to turn three, and not a fan of sleeping through the night...


10.30pm: Off to bed after watching The Walking Dead. 11pm: Fall asleep after half an hour of stressing over how much work I have to do tomorrow, as well as worrying about when Olwen will wake up. 1.30am: Olwen wakes up, and I have no idea why. I spend an hour trying to get her back to sleep, to no avail. She is wide awake and happy, wants to play with her toys. I try giving her warm milk, but it doesn't work. She does a wee. Doesn't work. Eventually, after two hours, she settles again. 3.30am: It takes me about 20 minutes, but I eventually settle back to sleep. 5.20am: Olwen is awake for the day, and therefore so am I. Coffee time. I am tired and annoyed by lack of sleep. I wonder how people go on to have more children - I feel too wretched and exhausted to a) get pregnant b) be pregnant or c) have a baby in the house that I have to deal with as well as non-sleeping toddler! I calculate that I got just 4hr 20 min sleep last night. Tiredness rating: 9/10 (10 is utterly knackered!)


10pm: Fall asleep on the sofa at 9.30pm so get into bed. I'm asleep by 10pm. 2am: Woken by Olwen screaming 'Mummy, mummy' - not sure why she woke up, but a quick cuddle sends her back to sleep. 3am: Fall asleep again. Takes me a while to go back to sleep because I keep thinking she will wake up any minute. 4.30am Olwen has woken up for the day - it's an early start, but she had no intention of going back to sleep. Why doesn't Cbeebies start until 6am? Thank you, Internet. Tiredness rating: 7/10


9.45pm Fall asleep on sofa at 9.30pm again. Fear I will never get through Ascension which we are trying to watch on Netflix. That is the third episode I have fallen asleep during! Midnight: Olwen wakes up, not sure why. She settles after about 20 minutes thanks to a cuddle and a tucking back in. 1.30am: Takes me ages to get back to sleep. 5am: Start the day, as Olwen is up and wide awake. Attempt to delay switching iPlayer by staying in her room reading stories and playing with her dolls whilst I sneakily look at Facebook on my phone without her realising. Tiredness rating: 7/10


10pm: Once again, asleep on sofa in front of TV by 9.30pm. I actually debate just putting the sofabed out, but actually make it to bed eventually. 2.30am Olwen is wide awake and wants to play. I try to get her back to sleep for an hour, but then give in, switch the bedside light on, read stories for half an hour then start her bedtime routine again. I eventually get back to sleep at 3.30ish. 4am: Olwen has woken for the day. Have come to conclusion she does not need sleep. I play with her in her room until 5am then wake husband up. 5am-6am I go back to bed and doze, but don't manage to get back to sleep, mainly because it is daylight outside by now and also because I can hear them playing in the next room. Am feeling pretty annoyed and really tired. Tiredness rating: 8/10


11pm: Get to sleep after watching Netflix. I'm asleep within two minutes of my head hitting the pillow. I haven't read a book in bed for about three years... 3am Olwen wakes up. No idea why. She is wide awake, happy and playing. I am knackered and grouchy as hell. After an hour and a half of her faffing around she goes back to sleep. 4.30am: I finally get back to sleep. 5.30am We are all up for the day. We should buy shares in Nespresso. Tiredness rating: 7/10


10.30pm Another falling asleep on the sofa night. We have given up on attempting to watch a movie these days and stick to episodes as it is more likely I will make it through one. I'm in bed asleep by 10.30pm. 2am: Olwen is up. She goes back to sleep quickly but it takes me ages. 3am: I fall asleep. 4am: Olwen is awake for the day. I am knackered and awake with her until husband relieves me at 5.30am. 5.30am I doze until six. Impossible to get back to sleep with them both up and playing and it being daylight. I surrender and drag myself to the sofa to watch Tangled with them and down espressos until I can focus. Tiredness rating: 8/10


11pm: Collapse into bed after watching Netflix and I'm straight to sleep. 3am: Olwen wakes up, takes an hour to resettle her and myself. 4-6am I sleep! Hooray! 6am Everyone is up for the day. This was a good night for Olwen, think she was really tired after swimming and all day activity in the daytime. Tiredness rating: 6/10 - a much better night!

This is an average to bad week for us. The week following was marginally better, still 5am/6am starts though. I drink a lot of coffee (three to four cups a day) but usually not after lunchtime.

I think some of Olwen's sleep disturbance may be due to a developmental phase but she does appear to need less sleep than some of her peers. Also, we are in nap dropping territory so some days there is no nap - which makes bedtime awesome, but night time worse.

I live in hope we will get more sleep one day, but for now there is coffee and the acceptance that I will be asleep on the sofa come 9.30pm most days!


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