When your little one is waking you up at the crack of dawn on a daily basis and then struggling to make it through the day without going a bit nutty towards bedtime, it can put a lot of pressure on families. It is also highly frustrating and one of the trickier sleep issues since it's at the end of night time sleep when the hormones are not on our side.
To clarify, 'early rising' is generally considered as pre 6am. In a lot of cases, early rising is a result of overtiredness and the hormone cortisol has a lot to answer for here! So, how so you resolve overtiredness and early rising? Before I go into some top tips, just be aware that early rising can take a while to resolve so stick to your guns and the perseverance will pay off.
#1 Sleep Environment Before making changes to sleep times, check the environmental factors such as:
Light - ensure there's no light creeping into the room in the early hours. This is particularly important in the Spring and Summer months.
Noises - if you've got a more sensitive sleeper then at 4.30/5am when they're in a lighter sleep make sure there are no noises that are disturbing them (heating coming on in Winter? Birds singing in the Summer?)
Temperature - in the early hours, our core body temperature is at it's lowest and research suggests that our feet can help regulate body temperature so try a pair of socks!
#2 Daytime Sleep
Naps and the time your little one goes to bed can also impact wake time:
Review how much daytime sleep your little one is getting and the recommended amount for their age - too much, too little?
Make sure any naps are taken at the right time of day and the wakeful window (the time they're awake between sleeps) is ok for their age. If they're awake for too long between sleeps this can contribute to the overtiredness and make it harder for them to settle at nap or bedtime, adding to the sleep debt.
If all is in check with daytime sleep and they are sleeping well during the night but going to bed at 6pm and waking at 5am then it could be they are getting all the sleep they need. Try nudging bedtime by 15minutes initially and stick there for a few days to see if it helps.
#3 How they fall asleep
How your little one falls asleep at the start of the night can have an impact on whether they can recreate those conditions in the early hours and resettle.
We all wake in the night. If we can roll over, feel safe and secure and the conditions are the same as when we first dropped off to sleep then we will repeat and enter a new sleep cycle.
In the early hours it can be harder to resettle because we've already had a considerable amount of sleep and so the desire to sleep is naturally lower.
If a little one relies on a lot of support at the initial onset of sleep, this can make resettling harder in the early hours and you may want to consider different ways to get them to sleep.
Finally, remember to respond to those early wakes in a consistent manner. For older children (2yrs +) reward charts can work well or sleep training clocks like the Gro Clock.
Check out my video on Facebook to learn more about how to you can resolve your child's early rising.
If you are still struggling or not sure what option to take then do get in touch and we can work towards making those early mornings a thing of the past!
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