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If I put my child to sleep later, will they wake later?

general infant toddler troubleshooting Dec 15, 2021

I know you probably have heard this conversation play out before. 

“My child is waking up so early now!”


Unwarranted advice:  “You should put them to bed later.  That way, they wake up later.”


We have all probably gotten this advice if you have ever struggled with early morning wakings.  If you haven’t had to deal with early morning wakings, you may be a little unsure about earlier bedtime if you’ve had a newborn you’ve been putting down a bit later to get a stretch of sleep and nighttime that gets just to about 8 or 9 am.


While this may make some very common sense to put your child down later, to get them to sleep in, doing so usually has the opposite effect and only deprives our children of having really solid consolidated nights.


It makes sense to also find that the most restorative of sleep happens before midnight, making it even more important to catch those waves earlier as much as possible.


In fact, research had shown that 18-month-olds that were put to bed later were at higher risk for motor, language, and social deficits. Late bedtime can also impact school-age kids later in life and also impact the school.  In addition to cognitive development, children who went to bed later also developed poorer dietary habits and but at risk for higher body mass index than those children who went to bed earlier.  


What is early bedtime?

Most children will thrive between 6 pm - 8 pm.  While, yes, there are children who could definitely thrive with a later bedtime, the majority, especially over the age of 12 weeks will do better in this window and will be more prepared for an earlier bedtime.


During the optimal bedtime of 6 pm and 8 pm, their little bodies will naturally start to experience a dip in their circadian rhythm which includes a natural increase in melatonin production, also known as the sleepy hormone.   Think of this as a natural way of the body starting to wind down and be in the perfect ‘mood for sleep.’


Going to bed later than this time can actually then be when overtiredness sets in and there is the production of cortisol, making it seem that your child is no longer tired, leading to hyper activeness, crankiness, and loss of emotional regulation.  


If you are managing through early morning wakings and currently have a later bedtime, I encourage you to take a look at your child’s sleep patterns and start transitioning your child to an earlier bedtime over the next couple of weeks.  You will be surprised that they will still be primed to wake at the same time, if not LATER, and allow them for longer and more restorative sleep.  


If you need help in figuring out what schedule and how exactly to do that, that’s what I’m here for!  Reach out, schedule a call.  I’m here to help!


Sleep is around the corner, 

Rested Mama, Happy Baby Founder

I'm your certified pediatric sleep coach and new parent educator, Mica Deshaw.  I help families on their journey to establish healthy sleep habits and get the whole family sleeping again, working with children ages 0-4 years old.


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