|Jacob, 16 months old|
The last few days for my family have been a bit busy. We haven't been home much and sleep has been a bit neglected. My 1 year old Jacob has had some short naps and gone to bed a bit late some evenings. The first two days he did ok. The third day he started to get a bit cranky and woke up 45 minutes early the next morning. The fourth (and thankfully last) day of this he was a bit more cranky and ended up waking 1 hour early the next morning. He was crying both mornings he woke early which is very unusual for him. The second morning he was even crying inconsolably for a few minutes. Overtirendness started to cause early morning awakenings. A super early bedtime, even 5:30 pm, could have prevented these problems.
Early Bedtime Please!
I often tell people with sleep issues to put their kids to bed earlier. Many people are keeping their kids up late in hopes they will either sleep in later or sleep better at night. Rarely does this work with babies and young children, especially long term (even if it does work, I don't suggest it, it isn't healthy). Others have their children going to bed at a decent hour but need an earlier hour due to overtiredness issues, bad naps etc.
Guess what I often hear when I give the suggestion for an earlier bedtime? Usually something along the lines of "that won't work", "but he's already going to bed so early", or "lady, you're insane". Maybe you are thinking the same thing. That's ok. I don't blame you. No one wants their kid to wake up even more at night or wake up even earlier in the morning, and it is a common fear and ingrained belief that putting kids to bed early will cause both of these things. I know of quite a few people that have successfully tried the earlier bedtime but are still hesitant to do it again because of these fears.
The earlier bedtime trick doesn't work for everyone, but please consider it if you are having sleep problems or have an overly tired child. And give it some time to work. You may be surprised by what happens!
To learn more about early bedtimes, I suggest you read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.