Late Sleep Phase - Goes to bed too late AND wakes too late

This is one of the most common sleep problems because our body wants to naturally have a cycle longer than 24 hours. This is compounded by a lack of bright light in the morning and too many artificial lights in the evening. Can you relate? Does your child battle going to bed until a very late hour at night and often acts cranky in the morning if you wake him at a pretty normal wake time --like 7 am?

Do not confuse this with a child that only has trouble going to bed at a desired time each night since this may simply be due to him not being tired because he needs less sleep than you think or
has badly arranged naps (most commonly the afternoon nap is too late). Also do not confuse this with a child that only has problems waking up at a desired time each morning since this may be due to him not getting enough sleep and his bedtime simply needs to be moved earlier.

How to Fix
If your child has appropriate meal times and isn't taking naps or has well timed naps (afternoon nap isn't too late) then you can slowly move the wake time earlier each day until it is around 30-60 minutes earlier than usual. Once you get to this point you can start to make bedtime a bit earlier too and continue moving both earlier at increments until you reach your desired time. Make sure to have his "bedtime" be at the time that he usually falls asleep(and maybe even a little later than normal at first), not when you want him to fall asleep. This may end up being extremely late but that is ok for now. You are working toward fixing this. If your child is eating and napping at bad times then you may need to start moving his nap times, eating times and wake times slowly by 10-20 minutes a day in the desired direction. Once again, do not start moving bedtime earlier until you are putting your child to bed at a time that he easily fall asleep and his wake time is 30-60 minutes earlier than it used to be. When this happens start to move the bedtime earlier in small increments until you reach your desired wake time in the morning or he no longer needs to be woken up in the morning. If he still has to be woken up in the morning even though you are at your desired wake time, then he may need to go to bed a little bit earlier at night (once again, slowly move his bedtime earlier).

Ferber suggest moving in 15 minute increments each day. From my experience and research it seems like moving 15 minutes a day every few days often ends up working better.

How to Prevent
  • Ensure plenty of morning light and decrease the amount of artificial light at night.
  • Keep the same schedule on weekdays AND on the weekend. If your child does need to make up some sleep on the weekend (like teenagers often do), try to not make it more than an hour or so each day.

1 comment :

  1. Hello : ) having some sleep issues with my 18wk old, he is very hard to put down for day napa (screams a lot) usually has 3 1 hour day maps, and struggles to get to 6pm after bath etc goes down for the night. Wakes to be fed (screams if not fed) at 9.30, 12.30, 3.30, and then at 4.30 is awake, I usually give him his dummy to try and resettle
    Him (I don't get him up, for as long as I can and then around 5am that's it he's awake. And we start the day all over again. Any help would be appreciated thanks