Early Wakings!

Are you struggling with 5am or 6am wakings?  Are you praying for that elusive 7am?

It CAN happen!

1) If it is once or twice a week – continue what you have been doing. Ignore him/her if she is playing in the crib. We simply don’t want to encourage your little one to get up or to continue waking up at this time.

2) Try an earlier bedtime. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Surprisingly there is evidence to suggest that putting children to bed earlier than usual could actually increase the amount of nighttime sleep they get and delay their wake up time in the morning. So, move the bedtime to 6:00pm. This is not an instant solution. Make sure to give it four or five days to see if it is working. If you see progress, then keep going, if not, go to step 3.

3) Another suggestion which may sound crazy – if it is always 5:30 am like clockwork, then set YOUR alarm for 5:10 and gently wake him/her up. What you are trying to do is to re-set their internal alarm clock. Do not turn on the lights or start playing with your child. All you want to do is rouse them a bit by touching and saying their name. Then once you see he/she has stirred a little and opened their eyes, you can leave the room. She should sink right back into sleep, but she will be into a different stage of her sleep cycle. You will need to do this for at least a week.

4) And finally, as a last resort if all else fails, move the bedtime to later in the evening. She might only need 11 hours sleep at night. So, we would move the bedtime to 7:00 or 7:30. You do this in a gradual process by moving it 15 minutes each night until he/she is going to bed an hour later. Again, it might take a week or so before you notice any improvements.

Why is this time of day hard for all of us to sleep? Babies, adults and children?

  1. We have already slept a big chunk of sleep
  2. Light is starting to enter the room – it is better this time of year
  3. Awake hormones are being released into our bodies signalling us to wake up
  4. We are in the lighter stages of sleep so noise can wake us up

I know it is super hard to trust that they will go back to sleep between 5 am and 6 am, but it is best not to assume that they won’t. My fear is that if you continue to pull your child out at 5:30 am one morning that we will inadvertently set their little clock to always wake at that time. I have many clients report that sometimes their babies don’t fall asleep at that time of the morning one day and then are pleasantly surprised when they do by 5:58 am and sleep to 7:30! It CAN happen. My fear too is that if you continue to feed them at 5 am and try putting him/her back in the crib for some more sleep, they will start waking ALL night long again looking for more feeds. If she does it one time, why not more?

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