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4 Reasons Your Child is Waking Early

4 Reasons Your Child is Waking Early

4 Reasons Your Child is Waking Early

First, let’s define an early wake up. An early wake up would be anything between 4-6am or after 10 hours of consolidated night sleep. That means, if you’ve got a child that’s waking at 6/6:30am, it’s not technically an early morning even if it feels like it! This is actually a normal, biological wake up for your child. (Don’t throw rocks at me yet!).

If they’re waking way too early though, there are some probable causes that you can work on and tweak to shift their wake up time to something more manageable. (Because who really loves getting up at 5am with their kids?!)

Reason #1: Less motivation to sleep

As I mentioned above, 10 hours of consolidated night sleep takes a huge amount of sleep pressure off of that early morning when sleep is lighter, sleep hormones are reducing and cortisol is naturally rising to wake them. Sleep cycles get shorter which means they’re cycling in and out of lighter sleep more often. That could be why your child seems more “restless” in the early morning hours - this is normal!

Reason #2: Bedtime is too late

I know, I know…. It seems counterproductive to put a child to bed earlier when they’re waking earlier. Most parents will put to bed later and later… but what happens is that your child gets overtired which increases cortisol. If cortisol is already naturally produces as part of our sleep/wake cycle, then your child is overtired, it only adds more cortisol making it even MORE difficult to fall back asleep in those early morning hours.

Most kids will have a natural wake up time between 6-8am and it’s very difficult to change their natural rhythm. That means whether they go to bed at 6pm, 7pm, or 8pm, they’ll likely still wake at their natural wake up time. A later bedtime does not equal a later morning wake up.

Reason #3: Light (and you!) are signaling it’s time to wake up!

While we do have a natural biological clock, you can set that even earlier by exposing them to light and interaction early in the morning. Your child’s room should be pitch black especially in those early morning hours. I’m talking about a cave of darkness. Any light exposure sends signals to the brain that it’s time to wake up. If you’re interacting with your child early in the morning as well, it stimulates the brain to wake up thus rewiring that biological clock.

Reason #4: Their nap is starting too early which shifts the schedule and only perpetuates the early morning wake up.

It also means most parents are then stretching them at the end of the day and you get a double whammy with bedtime also being too late! The best way to address this is to hold off on that morning nap and distract past the fussiness to reset the day. That may lead to some overtiredness - but early mornings do take time to work out! Base the first nap off the time you *want* them awake (within reason), not the time they are actually waking up.

Some takeaways: Don’t assume your child is just an early riser, especially if they’re a cranky hot mess when they wake up or by the end of the day! When I say that early mornings take time to work out, I do mean a couple of weeks at least as we are working on changing a habit. If you need any help at all with your schedule, I offer a package just for early mornings! You can check it out on my website at and scroll down to action plans!


Guest Post Written By:

Ashley Olson

Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

© Heaven Sent Sleep, 2019, all rights reserved.


Grey's Cowbell specialises in lactation cookies, lactation muffins and lactation drinks as well as other products. Our primary focus is to provide a superior product that yields a highly effective result. Our cookies, muffins and bottled drinks help breastfeeding mothers dramatically increase and sustain their breast milk supply.

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