Working with so many families, I often see trends on sleep issues little ones are having. October and March are with schedules transitioning with Daylight Savings, November/December/January and July/August I see a lot of kiddos who get off track with the holidays and travel, and May/June I see a lot of early risers. Three of the families I’m helping right now (strangely all boys!) are having issues with waking up WAY too early, so I thought this would be a great topic to cover this week!
Since how to solve early wakeups is the number one question I get from parents every week and I want to share four tips that can help:
1. How dark is the bedroom?
Today in Chicago, sunrise was 5:25am…and it’s going to get as early as 5:15am on the longest day of the year in June! I don’t know about you, but that’s still night time in my opinion. So since we don’t want anyone waking that early, make sure it’s really dark in your child’s room – especially in the summer.
When I do room assessments and look at how dark it gets with the shades closed, parents are often surprised that it’s not dark enough! You want it super dark – if on a sunny day, you can see your hand with the shades closed, it should be darker. Even the slightest change in light variation can stimulate a wake up. As an adult, you can look at the clock and notice that it’s not time to get up, yet. A baby or toddler can’t do that.
2. Location of bedroom and the sounds that can be heard?
Does your child’s room face the street with loud traffic or the side yard where the neighbor’s dog is always barking? Maybe you live in an apartment or condo building with noisy elevators or a fire station on the same block. Or one parent gets up really early for work and there are creaky floor boards right outside the nursery…
With random sirens, garbage trucks, barking dogs, elevator dinging and creaky floors, it’s important to drown out those pops of sounds. The closer it is to morning, the harder it is to fall back asleep when woken up. Most of those sounds happen in the early morning hours, so make sure to get a continuous white noise machine and drown them out!
3. Temperature in the bedroom
Many homes now have programmable thermostats and more often than not, they’re set to adjust to “day” temperature 30-60 minutes before the parents alarm goes off. In many cases, families set it cooler overnight – because it’s great to sleep in 68-70 degree temps! – and bump it up when they’re not under their cozy covers and fleece sleep sacks.
Take a look at when the temp is changing at your house if your child is consistently waking around the same time each (early) morning. It may be that the change in temp is contributing to rousing her from sleep!
4. Don’t start nap(s) too early
Is your child having a really hard time making it to his first nap of the day because he’s waking so early? That makes sense because he’s used to being up a certain amount of time, but with early wakeups, the whole schedule bumps earlier.
It’s tempting to start putting him down earlier for that morning nap, but you don’t want to do that. If you do, you’ll get stuck in this vicious cycle of him waking up too early, going down for a nap at 7:00 AM (actually using nap 1 as a continuation of night sleep), and throwing off the day. That will just mess up his body clock. You’ll likely need an extra nap, which will be completely foreign to him, and it’ll just cause a whole bunch of problems. So even though it’s really tough, it’s better to hang on to his normal nap time for first nap!
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Photo credit: Deposit Photos | lanakhvorostova