Early rising is one of the most challenging components of sleep because the lightest stage of REM sleep is between 4am-7am. This makes it difficult for our little ones to easily fall back to sleep during these times.
Nobody likes to see a “4 or 5” on their alarm clock in the morning (maybe some early birds) but when it is a wake up call from your baby, it is even less desirable. If you are finding that your wake-up call is creeping earlier and earlier, or maybe it has always been that early – there is usually a reason for it. This is especially the case if your baby has clocked less than 11-12 hours of night sleep, ask yourself the following questions to see if you can get to the bottom of it.
- Is your baby going to bed too late? If your baby has a bedtime that is too late, this is a recipe for overtired baby and an early wake-up. Most babies do best with going to bed between 6pm-7pm. This is also a natural biological window which makes it easier for the baby to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Is your baby going to bed too early? Are you stuck in a cycle of putting your baby to bed too early because they cannot keep their eyes open any longer and naps are all over the place? While I understand that there may be days that an earlier bed time is necessary in order to catch up on sleep debt that may have accumulated due to a day of poor naps, this is not recommended for consistently getting them into bed earlier over days or weeks. Overtime this cycle will lead to your baby waking too early and it is more challenging to fix when it becomes a set schedule for the baby.
- Is your baby overtired? Is your daytime schedule consistent and age appropriate? It is important to ensure you baby is having enough total day sleep and is not being kept awake too long in between naps. This is a big contender of early rising and the best solution for an overtired baby is an earlier bedtime to help them catch up on sleep. It is important to get your baby on an age appropriate nap schedule to ensure you are not dealing with over tiredness on a daily basis alongside negative sleep associations.
- Are you keeping your baby awake too long in between the last nap and bedtime? The time that is between the last nap of the day and bedtime is the most sensitive time of the day, if we are stretching the awake time too far, this will lead to more night wakings, and potential early wake up the next day.
- There are 3 external cues that assist our internal biological clock (circadian rhythm) to re-set each day. These are Light, Food and Social Interaction. It is important to treat all wake-ups before 630am like you would an overnight wake up, use your preferred settling method to resettle back to sleep and keep baby in their crib until 630am at the earliest. It is important to eliminate light from your babies room at 5am and ensure that your baby is not waking up hungry at this time. If you have a younger baby, ensure they are getting adequate milk consumption throughout the day to eliminate hunger, if you have a toddler or older child, ensure they are getting enough protein in their diet.
These tips will help you get started on the right path of eliminating early rising for your baby, consistency is key and will give you results however, this can take between 2-3 weeks. Keep your eye on the prize and you will see results with patience, time and consistency. If you feel you have ticked every box in trying to eliminate early rising but still cannot seem to fix it, please do not hesitate to contact me for a personalized plan and full support.