Troubleshooting Early Morning Wakings
Is your child stuck in a cycle of early morning wakings? If so, this is the blog for you! First off, I will say that as a sleep consultant, I do not consider anything 6:00 AM and beyond as an “early morning waking.” That means, if your child wakes up at 6:00 AM on the dot, there is nothing to “fix” and that is an acceptable wake-up time.
However, if you are dealing with 4:30 AM wake-ups, keep reading. Hopefully, this blog will help you to troubleshoot what could be going on in your child’s sleep.
The first common reason for your child to wake up early is that they are experiencing chronic overtiredness. This means, they likely aren’t getting the daytime sleep they need and could be experiencing night wakings throughout the night as well. When a child is overtired, their stress response gets activated causing them to release stress hormones like cortisol. This will make it harder for them to settle down. Double-check your wake windows, nap lengths, and how you are responding to their overnight wake-ups to try and ensure your child is getting the sleep they need.
The second reason you could be reaching for a cup of coffee in the wee hours of the morning would be that your child is going through a nap transition. See below for typical ages where a nap gets dropped.
5 Months- 4 naps to 3 naps
9 Months- 3 naps to 2 naps
15 Months- 2 naps to 1 nap
If your child is around one of these ages and early morning wakings seem like they have popped up out of nowhere, try to do away with a nap and see how it goes. Remember, it will take a few days to adjust to a new nap schedule, so give it some time.
The third reason that your child is waking up too early could be because they are getting too much daytime sleep. Simply put, they are filling up their sleep tank during the day, which decreases the need for overnight sleep. We sleep consultants like to call this “sleep pressure.” You want to make sure the sleep pressure is just right for your child so you can encourage them to get a full night of sleep.
If you are taking a look at this and have no clue where to start when figuring out if you are meeting your child’s sleep needs, no worries! You can download my Master Sleep Chart for FREE here.