Thank you so much for welcoming me as an Advisor. I’m excited to be a part of the Cape Cod Mommies group and hope my insights will help you through your young family’s sleep challenges. Since Amy mentioned early rising, a very common sleep issue, I thought I would make that the focus of my first blog.
If your adorable little alarm clock wakes up at 6:15am refreshed and ready for action – though it may feel like the middle of the night to us parents – you may have to just go with the flow. 6-7am is a biologically appropriate time for babies to wake. However, if she is groggy, falling apart by 7am, or consistently waking before 6am, you’ll want to tackle the early rising once and for all.
Here’s a look at the most common reasons for early rising…
Too late of a bedtime.
I know this doesn’t seem logical. We tend to think that if our children stay up late, they will crash hard and sleep in the following morning. Alas, this is rarely the case. Depending on their age, most babies and young children naturally want to fall asleep (not start bedtime routine) between 7-8pm. Missing their “sleep window” triggers the release of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone, which can make for a harder bedtime, more wakeful night, and early rising.
Nap deprivation in general.
Babies and young children who are not getting adequate naps on a regular basis tend to wake early in the morning. It’s important to know approximately how many hours of naps your child needs based on their age (understanding that these are averages – some children will need more, others slightly less). For example, a six month old needs approximately 3.5 hours of naps spread out over 2-3 naps, whereas a two year old needs approximately 2 hours of sleep during their afternoon nap. For more information on how much sleep your child needs, click here.
Too big of a wakeful window
Too long of a wakeful window prior to bedtime means that your child is going to bed overtired, with cortisol running through their body. This means we need to base bedtime partly on when our baby woke up from their last (or only) nap. For babies under 6 months, the maximum wakeful window is about 2 hours. As babies approach one year, the window extends to about 3 hours. Some well-rested toddlers and preschoolers can handle a 4-hour window, max. It’s important to watch for your child’s sleepy cues and tinker with bedtime to find out what works best for them.
Too drowsy at bedtime
Bedtime is the easiest time to get to sleep. If we act as our child’s sleeping pill, getting them to sleep at bedtime by holding, rocking, feeding, or patting them down, then how can we ask them to do it themselves when they stir at 5am,
the hardest time of the day to get to sleep?
If none of these ring a bell, take a look at your child’s sleep environment and make sure that there’s nothing external contributing to the early rising. Perhaps the birds chirp in the tree near their bedroom window or the morning light is streaming in through their curtains. White noise or blackout shades can make a big difference during the early morning hours, when babies are feeling relatively well rested after 9-10 hours of sleep.
Wishing you and your little ones many happy mornings together!
Visit Rebekah at:
Counting Sheep Pediatric Sleep Coaching
5/2/2012 03:26:55 am
Not so much a comment, but a question. Is it true that too much sleep can make you feel more tired?
5/2/2012 07:17:23 am
5/2/2012 07:59:28 am
I have a perpetually early riser, usually 430-530am . As we approach her second birthday, she has started to wake at 2am several nights each week. In between she magically slept from 845pm - 600am. What gives?
5/2/2012 09:37:42 am
5/4/2012 06:04:15 am
Kind of an opposite question, but what if your little one sleeps in too late every day? My little guy (15 months) goes to bed between 8:00 and 8:30 Every single night like clock work and does't start to stir until around 7:45-8:30 , usually getting up around 8, which don't get me wrong, is great! And it's pretty much been like this since 4 months old. But we can't get anywhere early and this fall he'll be in a new toddler program where he needs to be in school by 9 so he doesn't miss the curriculum and circle time. He takes one nap, mid day around 12 lasting 2 hours average. So he goes much longer than the 3 awake hours you mention. Is this sleeping pattern ok? I know I am lucky he sleeps during the night, but Elementary School is going to be tough if he is just a late sleeper. (I had think I had similar sleeping patterns as a baby, but was up late and slept in.) Any advice? Or are we on an ok track? How do I start to get him to start waking closer to 7:30 to get to school on time without dragging him out of bed. Thanks!
5/4/2012 06:47:22 am
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