In general, babies wake up early. But how early is too early? If you find that your little one has become an alarm clock that goes off at 5:00, 4:00 and so on, then it might be time to rethink when they should be waking up.
As a general rule of thumb, 6:00-7:00 am is when morning starts and anything before that should be considered night. During the early morning (4:00-6:00 am), a baby’s biological sleep drive is extremely low. Meaning, at the tail end of the night, your baby will be in the lighter stage of sleep and as a result, might wake up for various reasons despite the fact they still need more sleep.
Now, we’re going to get into the top causes of early rising.
The smallest bit of sunlight in the room can cause your baby’s brain to release hormones to help wake them up. Shutters, blinds, and dark curtains usually don’t block out enough light by themselves so I recommend adding blackout blinds.
Too late a bedtime
If your child isn’t getting enough sleep during the day, they might be overtired. It can be hard to gauge whether or not your little one is really alert or just experiencing a sleep debt but a good place to start is whether a sleep window has been missed. If your child misses a nap or has a bedtime set too late, they’ll begin to become overtired.
The science behind it is that once that sleep window is missed, hormones such as cortisol (which is similar to adrenaline) will fire off because the brain registers that sleep time has passed. As a result, your child will give off the illusion that they’re alert and awake and don’t need to be put to sleep, when in fact the opposite is true.
First nap is too early
A first nap that’s too early will be treated by your baby’s body as an extension of night sleep, causing early morning wakings! It’s important to keep in mind age-appropriate napping schedules to find out what wake windows are suited to the age of your child.
However, generally, the first wake window of the day will be the shortest.
Too much daytime sleep
Every baby has a sleep bank and sometimes, too much daytime sleep will overfill that sleep bank by the time bedtime rolls around. This can cause your baby to wake up earlier because they aren’t tired anymore. It can be hard to figure out whether or not your child is having too much sleep during the day but it’s worth keeping an eye on their age-appropriate napping schedule. As your child grows, the amount and length of naps will change too.
Too drowsy at bedtime
I know this might sound like a contradiction but trust me! If you have to put your baby down in the cot when they’re already asleep, it’s possible your baby can’t go back to sleep if they wake during the early hours of the morning. Falling asleep independently is incredibly important if you want to combat early morning wakes. During the early hours of the morning, your baby’s sleep drive is at their lowest, so if they haven’t mastered getting to sleep by themselves, it’ll lead to waking up earlier.
If you feel that you need help with teaching your baby how to sleep independently, get in touch. My Newborn offers a wide range of sleep programs to suit whatever you feel your family needs, and we can help you overcome early morning rising!