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Early Morning Wakeups.. WHY!?

toddler awake early morning

If you have an early riser, you may be feeling frustrated with your day starting at 5am, 7 days a week!  Early morning wake ups can occur for a number of reasons, and they can be one of the trickiest things to change.


Factors to consider when trying to change an early wake up: 

  • Is your child too hot or cold? What are they wearing to bed? Do they need to wear a sleeping bag/sleep suit as opposed to using a duvet?  Do you need to use a fan or a heater?
  • Is your child thirsty?
  • Is your child hungry?  Are they eating a well balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates and protein?
  • Is the room dark enough?  Is it as dark in the morning, as it is at bedtime?
  • Are there any external noises that could be making it more difficult to get back to sleep?  Think birds, mum or dad getting up for work/gym, trucks driving past.
  • What are YOU doing when your child wakes early? Consider whether you may be hindering their ability to get back to sleep!
  • Is your child having enough sleep during the day for their age?  Is their bedtime appropriate?  Not enough daytime sleep can cause overtiredness, which can cause an early morning wakeup.
  • Is your child having too much day sleep for their age?  Is their bedtime appropriate?  Too much daytime sleep may rob night sleep.

This chart shows you how much our melatonin levels drop off from midnight to morning, this hormone is responsible for keeping us asleep. Combine this with rising cortisol levels which actively wakes us up, and you can see why early morning wake ups are so much trickier to solve than night sleep issues. 


Young babies without a developed circadian rhythm will not be affected by what's shown in the graph above, but if they have slept relatively well through the night, their drive to sleep (sleep pressure) will be much lower come early morning, and getting back to sleep is much harder when they're just not that tired!  As frustrating as it is, this is very very normal, and one of the biggest challenges parents often have is in the hours after 4/5am, where their baby needs resettling every 40 minutes with rocking or dummy replacement etc.  


If you have a baby under 4 months old, the Snoo could be a huge help here! Settling them back to sleep without you needing to leave your bed.  


If your baby is older than 4/5 months old, some gentle sleep training to help them learn to get themselves back to sleep here is an option.


And finally, if your child is older than 2.5 years, consider introducing a sleep training clock like Ooly, to help them understand when it’s OK to start their day (you can purchase the Guide to Successfully Introducing a Sleep Trainer Clock here)

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