Does your child consistently wake up too early, ready and raring to start their day? You, on the other hand, can barely open one eye lid, let alone had your first cup of coffee yet? If this is something you are struggling with, then do I have some good news for you! There are actually common causes of early rising that, given enough consistency and patience, you can change!
Early rising can sometimes have a very simple solution. If too much light is coming into your child’s room, installing room darkening shades (or even putting black trash bags over the windows….I know, it’s not pretty, but it’s cheaper!) can help keep your early bird from getting up too early. If it’s noise from outside that’s waking them up, getting a white noise machine or a fan can be just the trick. Unfortunately, it’s not always this simple.
Ideally, your child should be waking around 7:00/7:30 each morning. Any waking before 6:00 am is considered ‘too early’ and can throw off your child’s entire schedule. If your child wakes up at 6:00 or 6:30 and is cheerful and well-rested, then you may have to live with the fact that your day has started. However, if your little one wakes at 6:00 or earlier but seems sleepy an hour later, they more than likely have an early rising issue and need help learning how to go back to sleep until a more desired wake up time.
Here are 4 common causes of early rising:
1. Going to bed too late
Children who are 5 years or younger should typically be going to bed by 7-8 pm. Although it isn’t logical, the more sleep children get, the longer they sleep. Therefore, putting your child to bed later will not ensure they will sleep in later in the morning. In fact, they will probably wake up even earlier!
2. Nap deprivation–
Skipped or short naps will set your child up for disaster at nighttime. Not filling your child’s sleep tank during the day will create early rising, more night wake ups and a poorer quality of sleep, resulting in an overtired and fussy child. Well-napped children sleep better at night! Sleep begets sleep!
3. Putting your child down too drowsy or already asleep at bedtime
If your child is dependent on you to put them to sleep at bedtime, either by rocking, holding, or laying with them until they fall asleep, they will likely have a hard time putting themselves back to sleep during the night without that same assistance from you. Sleep becomes lighter towards the early morning hours, which makes it harder to fall back to sleep and stay asleep. If your child wakes at 5:00am and doesn’t have the skill of being able to put themselves back to sleep easily, it may be challenging to get them to go back to sleep at all at this hour.
4. Long “wakeful window” between the end of the afternoon nap and bedtime
If the stretch of time between the end of your child’s last nap and bedtime is too long, your child will likely be overtired at bedtime- which will make it harder to sleep well and sleep long enough at night.
Again, consistency and patience are key in the process of changing early rising challenges. The longer you let early rising continue, the harder it is to change it.
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