Earlier this week it was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.
With the gorgeous Summer weather and early sunrise comes a really common sleep problem – early rising.
Now, most babies are already ‘Larks’ – they wake early and go to bed early.. Personally, I’m an ‘Owl’ whose natural preference is to stay up late and wake late….you see where the problem lies, right?!
But what IS early as far as baby sleep goes? Well, I’m sorry to break it to you but starting the day after 6 am is really quite ‘normal’ for babies, and (I’m sorry!) there’s not always anything you can do about that.
However, if your day is starting with a 5-something am or even earlier then here are my tips to help.
1 – Rule out environmental causes
Light is the biggest cue to our body that it is time to wake up, so with the dawn rising at 4 something in Summer, make sure you block out any bits of light that might be creeping into the bedroom.
4 am is also the coolest part of the night so make sure your baby is dressed appropriately, sometimes adding socks is a game changer!
2 – Pretend it’s night time still
For as long as you can, try to pretend to your baby that it is still night time, so ideally no TV, no lights, no chatting. It’s ok to pick them up and cuddle them but do it in the dark and try not to engage them. We want to prevent their circadian rhythm from using those cues to keep waking early.
3- Review the last wake window
Early rising can be caused by overtiredness, your baby crashes into their sleep cycles and it takes a few hours to catch up. If your baby falls asleep at bedtime in less than 15 minutes, try to put them down earlier, or allow them to nap for longer at the last nap.
4 – Review how long they are napping
If your baby isn’t napping enough during the day, they may end up being overtired at bedtime (see note above about why overtiredness should be avoided).
Conversely, if your baby is napping for too long in the day, then it could be that they have simply had enough sleep by 4 am so are ready for their day.
5 – Power nap
Early rising can quickly become an annoying habit. It’s a vicious circle, they start the day early so the whole schedule shifts earlier and then you get stuck in the new routine.
So instead of putting your baby down for their first nap after the usual awake window, just give them a quick 10-minute power nap then put them down for a ‘proper’ nap later on in the morning. This way you will be able to get your routine back to a more ‘normal’ time of the day.
6 – Gently support independent sleep
A baby who can settle themselves off to sleep at bedtime can more often than not settle themselves during other night wakes too, and even during these early morning disturbances.
You don’t need to leave your baby to cry in order for them to do this, there are many gentle ways you can help. My DNA Sleep Program offers different ways to support your baby in sleeping better for less than £50!
I hope these tips help, bearing in mind that if your little one has been waking early for a couple of weeks or more it can take a while to settle down. So keep at it and sending you a virtual coffee.
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