Get Rid of Early Rising Once and for All!

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Nobody tells you when you become a parent that you are going to see the sun rise more than you did in your free, single, fun loving days. Having a baby is like having a built in alarm clock, only you have no say in what time (or is it times plural?!) it goes off! 

Children are naturally early risers with the average baby waking for the day between 6 and 7 am (which is biologically appropriate!). The challenge arises when your little one wakes up bright eyed and bushy tailed at increasingly earlier times. Early rising is one of the most commonly cited challenges from families struggling with sleep. We consider anything before 6:00 am on a consistent or semi-consistent basis and “early rise.”  

There are many causes of early rising and in order to eliminate your early morning bonding sessions with your little one, it’s important to identify the cause and choose the proper strategy to resolve your issue. 

The top causes of early rising are: 

  • Too late of a bedtime 
  • Not enough daytime sleep 
  • Too long of a wake window between their last nap and bedtime 
  • Morning nap is too early, reinforcing the early rising

1. Late bedtime

Early to bed, early to rise is a myth. Aiming for an early bedtime between 6 and 7:30 (depending on when their last nap ended) will set you up for success. When children go to sleep already overtired, they have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. This is a recipe for a very early morning! 

2. Not enough daytime sleep

A huge misconception, that many parents have, is that the solution to nighttime wakings and early rising is to cut or reduce the amount of daytime sleep their child is currently getting. In fact, the opposite is true. Putting a child to bed who is already overtired is going to result in wakings shortly after bedtime, frequent wakings during the night, and an early morning. 

3. Long window between last nap and bedtime

If your little one is exceeding the optimal wake window between their last nap and bedtime, it is highly likely you will be facing wakings early in the evening (shortly after bedtime) and an early rise. If your little one is taking one nap per day, make sure the nap is in the afternoon (after lunch) to ensure they aren’t overtired at bedtime. Keep that window on the short side (add in a cat nap if you are facing a day of short naps!) and aim for an early bedtime. 

4. Early morning nap

If your little one is waking early, they will be tired much earlier than normal, and as a result, need an earlier morning nap. Adjusting the timing of this nap actually reinforces the early waking! If you shift their schedule to accommodate their early rise then you are actually helping them maintain that early start to your day. Regardless of their wake up time, try not to start their first nap of the day start before 8:30. 

Identifying the cause of the early rise will help you determine how to remedy the situation. If you have addressed the four most likely causes of early rising and you are still struggling, then reach out for a complimentary 20-minute phone consultation, there is likely something more going on!

SleepAmy Butler