As a children’s sleep coach this is one of the most commonly asked questions, so I thought it might be helpful if I blogged the answer.
Ok, so there are several simple reasons why this might be happening,
- Going to bed too late
- Not getting enough daytime sleep
- The interval between the end of the last nap of the day and bedtime is too long
- Your little one is going to bed too drowsy
- You are responding inconsistently
- There is an undiagnosed medical issue causing disturbed sleep (more uncommon)
Going to bed too late
As we know, all children are different and bedtimes do vary. However on the whole, you would expect bedtime to be around 6-7.30pm. If you are unsure when his bedtime is, watch for those all important ‘sleepy cues’ . When he starts yawning, rubbing his eyes, staring off into space, he should be in bed! If you miss the cues, there is a very good chance you will have a major battle on your hands ! Your little one will become wired to the moon and not only will him falling asleep take considerably longer but be prepared for him rudely awakening you through the night.
Not enough daytime sleep
Most kids up to the age of 4yrs need some daytime sleep. If you have a child who has interrupted night sleep, it is worth looking a how long he is sleeping through the day. Is he getting enough shut eye through the day to fill his ‘sleep tank’. Remember a well rested child tends to sleep well through the night.
The nap and bedtime interval
The length of time between the end of the last nap of the day and the time he goes to bed can affect his night time sleep.
Average sleep windows are :
0-5mths approx 1-2hrs. 6-8mths approx 1.5-3 hrs. 9-12mths approx 2-4hrs.
12-28mths approx 4-6hrs. 2-4yrs approx 5-12 hrs.
Going to bed more drowsy than awake
You are putting him down to bed too sleepy and so not learning the very important skill of falling asleep without support from you. So when he wakens through the night: 1. he gets a fright, because that is not where he went to sleep and 2. he doesn’t know how to get himself back to sleep.
Do you sometimes, go to your crying child through the night and lift him? maybe sometimes you give him a bottle ? or when you are really tired, lift him and take him to bed with you? Do you sometimes think, ‘right tonight, he’s gonna fall asleep on his own’, so you leave him to cry for 30 mins, but then it gets too much and you go in to his room and lift him, give him a bottle and take him to bed with you ?! ? This, as you will be aware is inconsistent parenting and can lead to more night wakenings, because of the confusion it causes. If this is your night in a nut shell, you need a sleep plan that you can stick to ! Consistent parenting is vital.
Undiagnosed medical issues
Medical issues that cause disturbed sleep are not that common but worth being aware of. They include gastric reflux, allergies, sleep apnea and asthma.
I hope this blog has helped answer the question and maybe help you to move one step closer to a good night’s sleep. zzzz