Early Morning Wake-ups and Ways to Fix Them
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
You hear your baby, look at the clock and see that it’s 5:15 a.m. You scream internally and wonder why she continues to wake at such an ungodly hour!
What’s the deal with these early morning wake-ups? How can you get more sleep?!?
When is it too early to wake-up?
Everyone has their own definition of what an early morning wake-up is. For you that may be 8 a.m. However, early morning wake-ups are typically any time before 6 a.m.
Children are usually ready to start their day between 6-7a.m. It's important to understand that their internal clocks are set earlier than adults. Therefore, it’s important to have realistic expectations when it comes to your child’s sleep needs.
How to Fix Early Morning Wake-Ups
If your child is waking before 6 a.m., let’s take a look at some possible reasons why and explore some simple solutions on how to fix it.
Light exposure: Even the tiniest bit of light peeking into your child’s room in the morning can cause an early wake-up. In the morning our drive to sleep decreases and the light seeping through creates a signal to your child saying, “It’s time to wake up!”
Fix: Make sure the entire window is covered. There are very cheap ways to do this. You can tape black garbage bags to the windows or buy polyisocyanurate foam boards (found at any Home Depot or Menards). These boards can be cut to size to fit your windows. I have found that black out curtains are not good alone and need something extra to help keep the room completely dark. **never put the baby or toddler bed near the window if you use garbage bags**
Environmental Noise: As mentioned before, in the early morning hours our sleep pressure is low and any little noise can jostle your little one awake. Something as simple as birds chirping can be the culprit.
Fix: Get some white noise! I personally love the Hatch baby rest sound machine, but you could easily use a fan. You want the noise to be relatively loud, around 50-60 dB, to drown out any outside noise that may be going on inside or outside of the house.
Bedtime is too Late: It sounds silly, but a bedtime that’s too late will cause early morning wake-ups. It's one of the more common reasons why your child wakes early. When your child is OVERTIRED they tend to have poor quality sleep which usually crates early wakings.
Fix: The best way to fix this is to move bedtime 30 minutes earlier. Be patient as this may take a few days or weeks for your child to adjust but with consistency you should be seeing a later wake time.
Naptime: These are a bit trickier, but what I will say is to make sure you are treating anything before 6 a.m. as a nighttime wake-up. This means if your child wakes at 5:30 a.m. their nap will be early -- essentially an extension of their night’s sleep. As a result, their sleep schedule is thrown off its course. Which then creates an earlier-than-wanted wake-up and the vicious cycle of waking too early will continue.
Fix: Watch your child's sleepy cues and follow an age appropriate sleep schedule to help your child get the best rest during the day so that they can get amazing sleep overnight. You can get my FREE Sleep schedule guide HERE.
Independent sleep skills: If your child has not learned how to fall asleep independently, chances are they are waking at the end of each sleep cycle and unable to put themselves back to sleep. Most likely they are relying on something you provide to help them get back to sleep. This can be rocking, bouncing on a ball or giving them a pacifier.
Fix: Independent sleep skills may develop over time; however, many need sleep training in order to break poor sleep habits. There are many methods on how to train your child to sleep independently. Pick one or work with someone that aligns with your family’s needs and stick with it. Consistency is key.
Do I have an Early Bird?
This is a possibility! Children aren’t robots and like adults some are just early risers. Once your child has maxed out on their sleep allotment for 24 hours, they will be done sleeping and will be awake for the day. In order to make sure you are getting the sleep you need, you may have to alter your schedule and go to bed earlier in order to wake up happy.
I Need a Hand to Hold!
Each child has individual sleep needs. If you feel like you've tried everything but nothing is working, contact me for a free 15-minute discovery call. One-on-one we can get your little one, and you, sleeping later!