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Welcome To The Members Area! Forums Baby Sleep Help Early Morning Wakings Reply To: Early Morning Wakings

  • Emma H

    April 2, 2024 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Kostas,

    It’s great that you have had time to review the course material. Hopefully, it is making sense.

    I would say that if Helen goes to bed at 8 pm, wakes at 2:30 am, and then at 4:30/5 am, she’s hungry. What should happen (as she already knows how to fall asleep on her own) is that the first stretch of sleep will gradually lengthen. For example, she might go to bed at 8 pm, and instead of waking at 2.30 am for her first feed, she might wake at 3.30 am. This might increase to 4.30 am. Then, it might move to 5 am. Then, she might not wake up until 6 am.

    I don’t recommend dream feeds (where you wake them up at 10 or 11 pm). That first part of the night is when your baby is in deep sleep so they don’t tend to feed well. But more importantly, waking them up to feed them at this point disrupts the natural process of them gradually extending that first stretch of sleep at the beginning of the night.

    If she wakes at 5 am, you can feed her or leave her if she isn’t upset. As you said, sometimes she just falls back to sleep, which is great. You will know if she needs you because she will start to call out pretty consistently. Just remember that for babies, waking up between 6 – 7 am to start the day is very normal.

    Regarding daylight savings, what you do really depends on your family routine and what works for you. If you would prefer Helen wakes at 7 am and goes to bed at 8 pm, then in the week leading up to the clocks changing, you need to gradually shift her circadian rhythm an hour earlier.

    To do that, you need to do three things.

    1. In the week before the time change, shift Helen’s entire schedule 15 minutes earlier every second day.

    This will ensure that she will follow her typical schedule when the time change occurs.

    This is how you do it:

    • On Monday and Tuesday move Helen’s wake-up time, feeds, and sleep periods (naps and bedtime) 15 minutes earlier than usual. For example, if Helen usually wakes-up at 7 am, naps at 9:00 am, 1:00 pm and 5 pm, and then goes to bed at 8:00 pm. On Monday and Tuesday of that week, you will wake Helen up at 6:45 am, offer her first nap 8:45 am, her second nap at 12:45 pm, her third nap at 4:45 pm and bedtime at 7:45 pm.
    • On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, you will wake Helen up 15 minutes earlier than you did on Tuesday and offer all feeds and sleep periods 15 earlier. For example, you will now wake Helen up at 6.30 am, and then offer her first nap 8:30 am, her second nap at 12:30 pm, her third nap at 4:30 pm and bedtime at 7:30 pm.
    • On Friday and Saturday mornings, wake Helen up 15 minutes earlier than you did on Thursday morning and offer all feeds and sleep periods 15 minutes earlier. For example, you will now wake Helen at 6.15 am and then offer her first nap at 8:15 am, her second nap at 12:15 pm, her third nap at 4:15 pm, and bedtime at 7:15 pm.
    • On Sunday morning, you will once again shift her wake-up time, feeds, and sleep periods 15 minutes earlier than the day before. However, because on Sunday morning the clock has moved forward an hour, what was previously 6 am is now 7 am. So you will wake Helen up at 7 am, she will have her first nap at 9 am, her second nap at 1 pm, her third nap at 5 pm, and her bedtime will be at 8 pm.

    2. Dim the Lights an Hour Before Bedtime: Bright lights can keep Helen awake longer, which isn’t what you’re aiming for. You’re trying to get her to go to bed earlier, not later. So, make sure to close the curtains and use softer lighting options, like dim lights, small lamps, or nightlights, as you prepare her for bedtime.

    3. Bright Lights in the Morning: When it’s time to wake up, make the room bright. Open the blinds and turn on the lights. This exposure to light in the morning will help reset Helen’s internal clock to wake up earlier, which also helps her get to bed earlier.

    If you do these three things in the week before the clocks move forward an hour, you will be able to successfully shift Helen’s internal body clock. However, it is important to note that a child’s circadian rhythm needs some time to adjust, so it might take Helen a week to adjust to the new schedule.

    Regarding your question about wake windows, the length of time Helen can stay awake after a nap depends on the quality and length of her previous nap. If she had a long nap, you may notice she has a longer wake window – so she might stay awake for 2 1/2 hours. But if she has a short nap, she might only be able to stay awake for 2 hours or slightly less. It’s due to this variability in wake windows, I recommend you look at wake windows as one piece of a three-piece puzzle when determining when Helen is tired. The other pieces are her general pattern (wake, feed, play, sleep) and, lastly, her unique tired signs.

    I hope that helps!