Sleep is extremely important. Children who sleep well, end up being healthier. When they are healthier, they can focus more when they are awake. When they are healthier and more focused, they are happier. And, to complete the cycle, happy kids sleep better in the night! Moreover, as a baby grows, he ends up napping less in the day and sleeping more in the night, which is why night sleep assumes a lot of importance. And that is why it is imperative that our kids learn good sleeping habits.
What Is My Child Is Not Sleeping Well?
A child who has disruptive sleep will also be cranky and pushy, and will pass his days in agony. Sometimes the reason your child is not getting enough sleep can be ascertained easily and require a bit of tweaking in the routine. Some common reasons can be:
- You change the routine frequently or do not follow one
- You spend too much time helping your child to sleep, which makes him wake up when you move aside
- Your child does not eat well before he sleeps and so wakes up due to hunger
- Your child’s sleep environment is not conducive for good sleep – it is either too hot, too cold or has a lot of noise from outside
- Your child tosses and turns the entire night because he is wet or uncomfortable
As a parent, you need to figure out why your child is not sleeping properly. Most babies can sleep for 9 hours a night by the time they are 6 months of age. And no, this is not a miracle, though all babies are different, yet most babies can give you a good night’s sleep when they hit their half birthday. Close attention, some help and a little bit of love should be enough to help a child who is not sleeping well.
Why Does My Child Wake Up Early?
Now, if your child is not sleeping well and waking up early, that is a vicious cycle too. They remain tired, cranky and drowsy during the day. They take longer day time naps and as a consequence, they sleep late in the night. And ironically, that leads to early waking up again.
Thankfully, this problem can be solved with some effort. Before we spill out the tips to ensure your child does not wake up early, let us first see the reasons behind the early waking.
Reasons A Child Wakes Up Early
- Your child is sleeping late: If you are assuming that a late sleep time would mean a late wake up time, you are wrong. When your child goes to bed late, they are exhausted. When they are exhausted, they take a longer time to settle down. They also do not get quality sleep. The result – they wake up early!
- Your child is not napping enough during the day: If you are assuming that if your child does not nap during the day, they will sleep better in the night, you are again wrong. Research shows that children with shorter or nap times have trouble sleeping in the night
- Your child is awake for a long time: If there is a long window of “wakefulness” when your child is awake and active between his day nap time and sleep time, then he might not sleep well in the night and as a result wake up early. Doctors suggest that there should only be 4 hours of wakefulness between nap and sleep times
8 Tips To Ensure Your Child Does Not Wake Up Early
You would have got the basic idea by now – if your child is exhausted or over tired when he goes to sleep, he will not get quality sleep and he will wake up early. So that is the thing to be avoided! Here are eight tips to ensure your child sleeps better and does not wake up early:
- Treat early waking same as night waking: If your child wakes up at 5:00 am every day (or earlier), and you let him be up, then it will only reinforce 5:00 am as the routine wake up time. Instead, do what you would if your child had woken up in the night, that is, try to resettle him back to sleep with some pats, kisses and reassurances
- Maintain a proper bedtime: As we mentioned above, going to bed too late or even too early can result in a low quality sleep. 7-8 pm is a very good time to put your child to sleep, so that they get 12 hours of sleep, and wake up fresh by 7-8 am. Do not allow yourself the liberty of changing your child’s bedtime as per your convenience
- Sleep in a dark room: Most parents leave a light on so that kids do not get scared when they wake up. Ironically, this will lead to early waking and kids becoming alert the moment they open their eyes. Try to encourage your child to sleep in a dark room with thick curtains. At the max, you could leave a small, dim lamp on – just enough light so if the child wakes up in the middle, he can be comforted and drifts back to sleep
- No hunger pangs: Another reason for early waking which we did not mention earlier is hunger. This is especially true for smaller kids who might have had an early night feed. If you think this is the case, try to squeeze in an 11 pm “discrete” feed while ensuring the baby does not wake up or become alert during the feed
- Teach them to resettle themselves: Slowly train your child to settle themselves if they wake up before time. The first step to this is laying them to sleep when they are still drowsy, not asleep. This way, when they wake up suddenly, they recognize the mattress, quilt, bedsheet etc. and tend to go back to sleep without any help
- Rule out any medical conditions: Any kind of breathing disorders, including the common cold, can make it hard for your child to breathe leading them to be restless in their sleep and hence wake up early. Even other events, like teething, growth sprouts, growing pains, any change in life (even as small as change of bed!) can lead to early waking. Find the root cause and address it
- Ensure your child gets enough nap time: As we said before, no napping does not equate to better sleeping in the night. Quite the opposite, in fact. Ensure your child gets a nap time in the day, as per his age. Do not put off naps thinking that this way the child will sleep better in the night
- Time the nap correctly: As important as having a nap time, is to time it right. Early morning nap times lead to long wakefulness for your child, which in turn leads to troubled sleeping. Make sure the nap time is after lunch so that there are only 4-5 hours of wakefulness between nap time and sleep time