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16 10, 2018

The 8 Month Sleep Regression; What Causes it and How to Solve It

October 16th, 2018|Categories: Baby Sleep|

You Say Regression, I Say Progression

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of a sleep regression. Likely, it was the 4 month sleep regression. But what about other regressions? In particular the 8 month sleep regression? (Sometimes called the 8-10 month regression. But don’t worry, it doesn’t last that long, rather it can happen sometimes during those months. Whew!)  It’s not talked about as much, but can still impact your child’s sleep.

What is a Sleep Regression?

Sometimes the term ‘sleep regression’ is overused and we say it to explain any challenge with sleep that occurs. (I myself have been guilty of that in the past. I distinctly remember posting on a sleep forum to try and find out if there was such a thing as a 13 month sleep regression. Note: there isn’t!) 

But in the truest sense, a sleep regression describes a previously completely independent sleeper in the weeks before that suddenly has gone off the tracks. However, if there were sleep associations, medical issues, poor sleep hygiene, and/or the challenges that were present in the few weeks leading up to the sleep disruption, it’s likely not a sleep regression.

The good news is; regression or not, changes can be made and solutions can be found to help you overcome this challenging period of development. 

What is the 8 month sleep regression?

If you had previously heard of the four month sleep regression, then it’s important to know that what happens at eight months is quite different. At four months,  your child underwent a biological and cognitive sleep shift. This was a development in the way that your child fell and returned to sleep. Sleep cycles developed and your child began to enter and exit these cycles all night long.

The development they undergo at eight months is slightly different.

This time, your child’s biological sleep patterns are not changing. However all the physical milestones that your baby may be experiencing at this time can start to impact their sleep. 

Additionally, this is a common period for children to experience nap transitions as well and a sleep debt can build up. There’s a lot going on for children development wise at this time in their lives. It’s like the perfect storm of sleep disruptions.

What Causes the 8 Month Sleep Regression?

As mentioned, there are a few reasons why this blip in your child’s sleep may happen. Let’s look a bit more closely at the reasons;

  • Cognitive developments: Your baby is developing a sense of object permanence. She is starting to understand that even though you are gone from sight, you have not actually disappeared. This means they may cry for you once you’ve put her down in the crib.

 

  • Language development: The brain is working overtime to practice moving the jaw, tongue and lips to form new sounds to communicate. 

 

  • Physical developments:  Developing more strength and motor skills. Children are starting to learn to crawl, sit up and pull up. They may decide to practice these skills during nap time or at night.

 

  • Nap transitions: Baby is ready for slightly more awake time, a more regular schedule and might be ready to drop from three to two naps.

 

  • Overtiredness: If a child has the wrong routine, too late bedtimes or all the new developmental changes are tiring them out, this can cause a regression in sleep as a sleep debt builds.

 

Can You Sleep Train During the 8 Month Sleep Regression?

The short answer is ‘yes’. But understanding that sleep training is the last component to put into place, is important.

The long answer is, if you’ve read my articles or follow me on Facebook, you know that sleep training plays a very minor role in creating an overall healthy sleep routine for your child. The priority should always be a well-timed daytime routine and an age appropriate bedtime.

Want tips for a great routine and a solid night’s sleep? Download your FREE copy of Baby Sleep Basics here. 

Many sleep issues can be completely solved with just doing the foundation work of having a wind down routine, well-timed naps and an age appropriate bedtime. In fact I would go so far as to say that many sleep regressions can be avoided altogether with this, somewhat, simple advice.

Sleep is essential for everyone, including your child. Helping baby to get more sleep that they need to be healthy, so don’t let a developmental spurt stop you. 

How Do You Handle a Regression While Baby is at Daycare?

Handling a sleep regression when baby is at day care can be tricky, but there are things you can do. First and foremost, make sure the day care has a good understanding of healthy sleep habits, and the sleep needs of your child. Communicate with them what you’re experiencing and make sure they are understanding of the situation.

Tweak your baby’s routine as needed and ensure that the day care is supportive of this. And always remember to be patient. Many day cares have policies they have to follow. If it seems like they’re being difficult, they’re probably just following a procedure.

Tips to Handle the 8 Month Sleep Regression

Sleep Needs

Know how much sleep they should be getting in a 24 hour period. See this chart.  This is an important place to start. If your child is clocking significantly less than recommended, they may not be experiencing the 8 month sleep regression at all, but rather just be overtired.

Sleep Accumulation

Log their sleep for 5-7 days to see what they’re actually getting. Divide the total amount of hours by the number of days and it will give you an average to compare to the recommended amount.

Identify Problem Areas

Is your child having disrupted night sleep? Or are naps the biggest challenge to your child’s sleep needs? Once you see where the main issues lie, you can tweak your baby’s daytime routine. 

If your child’s naps are too short,compensate with an earlier bedtime. But if night time is the bigger area of concern, you may need to tweak the routine to reflect their biological circadian rhythms and natural sleep windows.

And finally, if a nap transition is needed; follow this article for tips and move to two naps.

Give Practice Time

If your baby is enjoying practicing her new skills instead of sleeping, offer her some practice time during the day. While you don’t have to sit, prop, or pull her up, offering her the ability to naturally practice these skills during the day can help.

Sleep Train, If Needed

Once an age appropriate routine is in place, if you want to wean any habits your child has become dependent on, you can. Pick a method that you feel the most comfortable with and be consistent with it. There are a variety of methods outlined in this series. 

Be Patient

Sometimes, with new skills, comes blips in sleep. If your child’s routine is on track, bedtime is age appropriate and she’s an independent sleeper, all we can do is just wait for the cognitive or physical milestone to develop allow the novelty to wear off. In these cases, as long as we don’t start any habits we don’t want to maintain long term, this phase lasts one or two weeks.

Have more questions?

There are many ways to get answers. Make sure to like and follow the Baby Sleep 101 Facebook page to get notifications when there is a free Q & A session.
Download your copy of Baby Sleep Basics or book a one-on-one private consult to get detailed and specific help for your unique situation.

1 10, 2018

Night Terrors & Nightmares; How To Help Your Child Sleep

October 1st, 2018|Categories: Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep|

Night Wakings, Night Terrors, & Nightmares-how to help your child manage all three

Halloween is coming! And with this season comes with an assortment of monsters, goblins and ghosts – oh my!

For some, this festive season is all in good spirits. For others, such as our little ones, it can be all too new and terrifying. The imaginations of children can be affected by the scary sights that are flying around at this time of year. Their brains are working on overtime trying to process it all and this can cause bad dreams.

How should you handle situations where your toddlers and preschoolers are scared and waking up at night? Is it really nightmares, or something else entirely?

First, it’s important to note that there are three common types of night wakings:

  • Overtired night wakings
  • Night terrors
  • Nightmares

Let’s look at each in a bit more detail.

Overtired Night Wakings

Did you know that no one really sleeps right the way through the night? Especially not children! We all go through periods of rest and brief wakefulness.  As you can see in the following image, our children’s sleep cycle lasts approximately forty five minutes. Once a cycle is complete, they will partially wake up before entering another cycle.

4 month old sleeep

You usually enter and exit these cycles seamlessly. However, children can become overtired due to an increase in stimulating hormones in the body. This will increase the chances of waking during the night when children are trying to transition through the different stages of their sleep cycles.

The Solution To Night Wakings

The solution to night waking is simple (in theory 😉 ). Make sure your child is well rested and getting the right amount of sleep based on their needs.

It goes without saying, but if they’re over tired they need a few days with earlier bedtimes. This will help them to catch up on the deep sleep cycles that occur early on in the night.

In addition, have a soothing wind down routine, dark sleep environment to encourage their body and brain to settle for the night.  Finally, work towards weaning their dependency of sleep props if it is disrupting their ability to transition through sleep cycles at night.

Night Terrors

Night terrors are not a pleasant experience for the child and parents. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, during a night terror your child may have their eyes open and appear to be awake. They might yell, scream and thrash uncontrollably. Your attempts to soothe them will go unacknowledged until all of a sudden they ‘snap out of it’ and come to. This will leave both you and your child confused.

Technically speaking, night terrors, less commonly known as a Confusional Event, occur when part of the child’s brain remains asleep although their eyes are open. When they overcome the night terror they won’t remember what has happened. This might seem similar to a nightmare, but it isn’t. No dreaming occurs during the sleep cycle when night terrors take place. Night terrors tend to happen during NREM sleep  and in the first four hours of sleep.

The Solution To Night Terrors

Like regular night wakings, night terrors can be associated with a child being over tired. Make sure they are getting the right amount of sleep and be sure to allow them earlier bedtimes if they’re lacking sleep.

Night terrors can also happen if the child is too warm. Watch that their bedroom temperature stays between 17-21 C (62-69 F). Dress them in warmer pajamas and have a cooler room temperature. This is better for the body than wearing cooler clothes and having a warm room temperature.

Nightmares

Nightmares and night terrors often get confused with one another. But nightmares differ from night terrors for a few reasons.

  • Nightmares happen during REM sleep whereas night terrors occur during the NREM sleep phase
  • Because of this, nightmares tend to happen later during the night
  • The child will usually remember their nightmare or at least know that it’s the reason why they woke. Children won’t remember their night terrors and may even fall back asleep after one unless woken by a parent

The Solution To Nightmares

Children waking due to nightmares is a common worry I see among my clients. The good news is that nightmares don’t actually happen as often as you might think. I see more night wakings happening in children that are caused by sleep debts and over-tiredness. This is more of a concern than nightmares.

That’s not to say that nightmares don’t happen.  Incidences of nightmares usually peak between the ages of 3-6 years of age and can be brought on by a number of things. More often than not, it’s simply brought on by growing up and being aware that negative or scary things exist.

If a child is dealing with anxiety or stress brought on by changes in their lives such as starting school or a new sibling coming into the family, this can also trigger nightmares. Or, the child may simply have an overactive imagination.

Validate Their Feelings, Not the Fear Itself

When your child has a nightmare, reassure them that the dream wasn’t real and validate their feelings. At the same time, be careful to not validate the actual fear itself. 

Sometimes, in their efforts to reassure a child, parents will start to do a “monster check” or spray a supposedly magic potion to keep them away. But doing this implies that there are actually monsters to check for, or bad things that require a magical potion.

Instead offer gentle reassurance, love and support after a bad dream. Give them the tools to work at building their confidence up. For example; if they are very upset you could try to help them by rewriting the dream and giving it a funny or silly ending.

This not only conveys the message that the dream wasn’t real, but empowers your child to manage their feelings upon waking.

Watch What Your Child Watches

Children have wild imaginations-it can be what makes them so fun to be around.  But many young children are very sensitive and even some cartoons and movies that are targeted for younger audiences can be too scary.

I once made the mistake of letting my daughter watch The Lion King. She was already in school, so I thought it would be fine. However, the hyenas scene bothered her for a few weeks.

We had many conversations about how it wasn’t real, along with ideas of what she could focus on at bedtime instead, such as her favourite parts of her day, what we would do on the weekend, etc.

After that, I always took into account her sensitive nature before viewing other movies.

Limit Electronics Before Bed

It may also be a good idea in some circumstances to monitor and limit the amount of TV your child is watching before they go to bed.

It is recommended to shut TV or similar electronics off 60-90 minutes before bedtime to encourage melatonin release and help your child wind down. This can also help your little one to not incorporate anything too confusing or scary into their dreams at night.

8 takeaways to help you and your toddler sleep easy

  • Make sure they’re getting the right amount of sleep for their needs
  • Give them earlier bedtimes to help them catch up on their sleep cycles
  • Make sure their room is a good temperature
  • Validate their feelings, but don’t encourage the fear
  • Reassure and comfort them
  • Help them to learn coping mechanisms
  • Limit TV exposure before bedtime

When our little ones wake at night, it’s important that we understand the reason, so that we can help them get back to sleep quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s an over-tired night waking, night terror or nightmare, there are several tips and tools you can use to help everyone get the rest they need.

Want more sleep tips for your toddler or preschooler? Grab your free copy of Sleep Solutions for Toddler + Preschoolers; Easy Tips for Exhausted Parents

18 09, 2018

The 3-2 Nap Transition; When and How To Do It

September 18th, 2018|Categories: Nap Transitions|

3-2 Nap Transition

It should come as no surprise that infants and children sleep a lot more than adults. This is because sleep plays a vital role in growth, development and cognitive functions. Children are undergoing these things at a more intense rate than adults so it stands to reason that they require more sleep to be able to grow and develop properly. This is one of the reasons that children nap during the day. Naps are important for helping children form overall healthy sleep habits and patterns.

Sleep Debts

When naps are missed, something called a sleep debt, forms. This debt is the cumulative difference between sleep needed and sleep actually attained. Overtime, if this debt grows larger, or isn’t recovered, children become overtired. This leads to a whole host of problems that can include night wakings, early morning risings, short naps, plus more. You can read more about overtiredness and sleep debts here.

You can think of a sleep debt like a financial debt. If you have withdrawn one hundred dollars from your overdraft account, you are in debt. You owe your account one hundred dollars. If this isn’t repaid, interest is accrued, increasing the debt.

Repaying the sleep debt, or not having one to begin with, involves having an age-appropriate nap routine. Most children under three years of age will need a nap in some form while they’re still rapidly developing.  However, it’s not unusual for many kids to continue napping until they start full day school in Kindergarten or Grade One.

What is the 3-2 nap transition?

Before we get to that stage where naps are cut out all together though, we have to overcome the first “official” nap transition. The first nap transition that many parents encounter is the 3-2 nap transition. This is when the child no longer needs their third nap of the day. This third nap is often referred to as the catnap because it’s usually shorter than the other two naps. The third nap usually only lasts one sleep cycle (30-45 mins).

When does the 3-2 nap transition occur?

Knowing when to drop a nap can be confusing for parents. On average, a child will be ready to drop their third nap between 6-9 months of age. However, if the child has developed independent sleep skills and is taking long naps of about 1.5-2 hours, they may lose this nap earlier.

How do we know they are ready?

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for nap transitions. Usually by 6-9 months most children will be ready for the 3-2 nap transition. You’ll also be able to tell if your child is ready if their routine starts to shift slightly. If they have two longer naps that have become well established this shows that they are aligned with the child’s biological sleep circadian rhythms.

Another sign that your child is ready to drop their third nap is when no matter what you do, regardless of the tricks you pull out of your sleep bag, they just won’t sleep! I distinctly remember driving my daughter around in the car to get her to sleep for the third nap and eventually even this stopped working. She just stayed awake the whole time.

Other signs your child no longer needs the third nap:

  • Your child is 6-12 months old
  • Your child might appear tired but still refuses the nap no matter what you do
  • All of your usual go-to “tricks” stop working. Things like nursing, feeding, rocking, bouncing and driving rarely work or stop working all together
  • The other two naps become long and well established in their routine
  • Because of two prolonged naps, it seems too late into the afternoon to introduce a third nap. You might find yourself wondering “should I try another nap or just do an early bedtime?”
  • As your baby lengthens naps one and two, the third nap may push bedtime too late. 
  • The other two naps might stay short but become well established. This is common around 7-8 months of age

Signs that they still need the third nap

  • Throughout the week, there are more days than not that they are taking the catnap
  • Your child is going through a big development like trying to sit up, stand or crawl. A surge in brain development often coincides with another part of development regressing, like sleep
  • If you offer more awake time between nap two and the catnap, they start to take it again.

How to transition from 3-2 naps

In order to make this transition successful, naps one and two must be at least an hour and a half long. For babies younger than six months, short naps are common as their sleep/wake cycles fully mature which makes transitioning to a two nap routine at this point, rare. However, if your child is taking a morning and an afternoon nap that are closer to two hours in length, then they may be ready to drop nap three.

Once you decide to drop the third nap, you need to move bedtime earlier so your child isn’t awake for too long. Most babies napping twice per day settle into a bedtime of 5-7 pm. Yes, I said 5pm. No, that’s not a typo. 😉 

Early Bedtimes During the 3-2 Nap Transition

When moving your baby’s bedtime, it needs to reflect the dropped nap. We want to avoid creating a sleep debt, so we need to replace the missing day time sleep with night sleep until the child can handle longer wake periods. Depending on their age when they drop the catnap, they still may only be able to handle a two hour wake period.

This is how we end up getting to a 5pm bedtime.

For instance, if the child is 6 months old and nap two lasts from 1-3pm, even after that great nap, they can only sustain a two hour wake period, given their age. If you’ve tried for a catnap and it’s not happening, they need an early bedtime of around 5pm.

Once your child is ready to drop the third nap, or is refusing to take it, then stop offering it and move bedtime up earlier.  

The early bedtime won’t last forever, it’s just while they are adjusting to the two nap routine. Put your baby down for the night when they need it, and put up your feet and enjoy.

Nap Transitions Summary

Nap transitions can often be tricky and sometimes, they can be downright awful. Deciding when the right time is for your baby to drop a nap can be confusing for the best of us. Listen to the signs that your child is giving you. If they don’t want that third nap and their other two naps get longer, that could be a sign that they’re ready to transition.

Need more help with your baby’s sleep? Pick up your free copy of Baby Sleep Basic’s: Tips To Encourage Better Sleep.
28 08, 2018

Back-To-School Sleep Routines; How to Recover From Summer

August 28th, 2018|Categories: Preschooler Sleep|Tags: |

Have you ever heard of the “summer slide”? It’s the term given to the idea that students lose some of their academic skills over the summer.

But when it comes to sleep, children experience a different kind of summer slide. One that involves later nights, a more fluid routine and less sleep overall.

As we enter the new school year, it’s important that our children are refreshed, rested and ready to tackle the year ahead. Here are some tips to get your little scholar’s sleep back on track.

Wind Down Routine

The first step is to create a relaxing pre-sleep routine that is easily repeatable. This wind down routine helps your child’s body gear down, cue their brain to release the sleep hormones, and set the stage for sleep.

Depending on the age of your child, their wind down routine may include;

  • a warm bath,
  • bed time stretches or yoga,
  • reading books,
  • writing in a journal
  • cuddles with a parent

Whatever you and your child choose, you want to repeat a variation of it each night. This creates a cue for the brain and helps the body to relax quickly and settle down for a good night’s sleep.

The Right Time for Bedtime

Children under the age of 6 can require up 12 hours of sleep each night. However, if they are going to bed too late and waking up early for school, they will miss out on precious hours each night. This can leave kids overtired, and unable to fulfil their full learning potential. To conquer this, make sure your child is getting the right amount of sleep each night in the days and weeks leading up to the beginning of school.

To do this, you need to look at when they will need to be awake each morning and count backwards from there.

For instance, if your child must be awake by 7:00am in order to get to preschool or the bus stop in time, count backwards the amount of hours they need to get a full rest. That is when bedtime needs to be placed.

So if they on average sleep 11 hours at night, with a 7:00am wake up time, they need to be asleep by 8:00pm.

If bedtime has been later or, morning wake up will need to be earlier than it is now, you can start adjusting their routine ahead of time. This gives their internal body clock time to adjust gradually.

Add Sleep to the Shopping List

If you’re like me and excited to purchase the back-to-school supplies, be sure to add sleep supplies to that list. We want our young students to get the most restful sleep possible and that means being comfortable and cozy.

New pajamas, sheets, pillows, are always a special treat. But don’t forget to shop for their sleep environment too. Black out blinds to help with early bedtimes and morning wake ups are important, as well as white noise machines to mask the noises from the older siblings, family pets or street traffic.

If you’re creating a new wind down routine as mentioned previously, this is also the time to find a special journal to write in, or new books that can become old favourites.

Be Mindful of After School Activities

Now this tip isn’t necessarily for the time before school starts, but after. Starting school, for anyone, especially those in preschool, kindergarten or full-time days, is a huge adjustment. Not only emotionally, but physically. Children often need more sleep in the first few months as their body adjusts to these big changes.

Therefore when registering them for after school activities, be mindful of this. Consider when these start and end as well as the driving time involved.

If they mean your little one will be getting to bed later on a week night, you may want to consider doing a weekend activity instead or, doing it in the spring once they have adjusted.

As much as we want our children to be well-rounded and have a multitude of experiences, they won’t enjoy them if they’re exhausted. More importantly, not getting enough sleep will also hinder their focus, attention and behaviour at school.

We all enjoyed the lazy-hazy days of summer, but now it’s time to get back into a regular routine. Don’t worry if the summer slide hit your household. By following the tips above, your children be ready for the school year ahead-bright-eyed and well-rested.

 

 

 

27 06, 2018

3 Reasons Your Toddler Won’t Go To Sleep at Bedtime

June 27th, 2018|Categories: Toddler Sleep|

Toddler Won’t Go To Sleep At Bedtime?

“This is the the song bedtime that doesn’t end,

Yes it goes on and on, my friends”

If you have a toddler that seems to take forever to get into bed, or fall asleep, then this is your anthem. (My apologies to Lamb Chop Play Along for my version.)

When your child was a baby, you may have envisioned that a toddler would be easier to put to bed. No more rocking, feeding, changing, changing again and more rocking. For hours and hours.

After all, with independence and the ability to communicate with words, comes less work for Mom and Dad, right?

But it is sometimes for precisely those reasons that bedtime gets dragged on and on.

“I need another glass of water”

“I have to pee”

“Why are leaves green?”

After you explain in detail, chlorophyll and by extension, photosynthesis, you say a silent prayer that this is finally IT and you can close the door and relax for the night.

Um, no.

Ten minutes later, the process is repeated.

As frustrating as these extended bedtimes are, there are usually specific reasons why they occur.

Usually; the child is overtired, undertired and/or the expectations around bedtime haven’t been well-defined.

It can take a little bit of figuring out which one is the main reason, but once you do, bedtime can return to an easy, relaxing and quick process.

Let’s figure out what’s going on. And more importantly, how to end it.

Reason #1 Why Your Toddler Won’t Go To Sleep

The number one reason why your toddler won’t go to sleep quickly and easily at bedtime is because they are overtired.

When kids are either not getting enough sleep, or bedtime is too late, they form a sleep debt and become overtired. Both of these terms mean that the child is sleep deprived.

A sleep debt is the difference between how much sleep a child should be getting and how much they are actually getting (similar to an actual financial debt).

“Overtired” is a description of what happens to their body when the sleep debt and sleep deprivation takes over (similar to when you dip into your overdraft in your savings account). If you want to read more about how overtiredness affects children, check this article out.

Now you may be thinking that in order to use the term “sleep deprived”, a child would have to be trying to survive on only a few hours of sleep, however, even an hour less of the recommended amounts, can start a child’s body and brain into a downward spiral.

In response, the brain releases stimulating hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) to try and fight the fatigue, and parents are left with a hyper, defiant child, doing naked somersaults on their bed.

No?

Just my child?

Alright, let’s carry on then.

Having a sleep debt is extremely common, so common in fact that we almost don’t even seem to recognize it as a society. We say things like ” the terrible twos, or threenager threes” to describe the behaviour that comes with this age group, not taking into account how much of that unruly behaviour is due to sleep deprivation.

To counter this, it’s important to get your child on an age-appropriate routine. That usually means having a nap if the child is under three to four years of age and a bedtime that isn’t too late.

Reason #2 Why Your Toddler Won’t Go To Sleep

The second reason for a bedtime that drags on is because your child is undertired.

Say what?

I know, I know.

It may sound confusing, and it can be, when you’re a tired parent. But from this sleep consultant’s eyes, certain patterns emerge when a bedtime that is going on for-evah, that help me tell if the child is over or undertired.

This most frequently happens to kids who love to take long afternoon naps (of which, I was never blessed with). Understandably, the caregiver wants to enjoy this much deserved downtime.

But if the nap goes on for too long, it can not only shortchange the nighttime sleep, but it sets us parents up for failure come bedtime.

They child just hasn’t accumulated enough wake time from the end of the nap until bedtime. They aren’t tired yet, but rather, they are undertired.

Again, we may or may not see naked somersaults.

For example, if your three year old naps from 12pm-3:30pm and then bedtime is around 7pm, this is only about three and a half hours of wake time for that child.

And while a typical toddler’s day is usually lopsided, (meaning that there is a longer wake period in the morning before the nap than there is in the afternoon), three and a half hours is too short for a child this age. They won’t be tired and you may see a lot of protesting, stalling and negotiating.

Similarly, a toddler won’t go to sleep when the nap has gone too late into the afternoon.

We all have certain points in the day when our body’s internal clock makes it more receptive to sleeping. This clock, called the circadian sleep rhythm, promotes ideal times sleep times within your child’s body by lowering your child’s core temperature and releasing sleep hormones (melatonin) into the bloodstream. This occurs during the day to promote a nap, and then again in the evening to encourage the onset of night sleep.

 

Toddler Sleep Troubles Got You Down? Sign up for the FREE Toddler Sleep Solutions Guide. Easy tips for exhausted parents!

However, if the child is being put down for a nap too late into this ideal time, then it will affect the bedtime circadian rhythms.

Once again, without having accrued enough wake time in the late afternoon, and now sleeping against the body’s natural sleep clock, the child will have a very difficult time falling asleep.

Some parents choose to do a later afternoon nap so that their child can stay up late; usually in the summer months when schedules are more relaxed.

And while, this can be beneficial when we have an event or occasion that we would like our kids to attend in the evening, overtime, a bedtime that is too late will start to cause problems.

The reason for this is due to how the brain cycles through sleep at night.

Early evening sleep allows the brain to cycle through more deep sleep (called Non-Rem) which is cut off with a late bedtime and doesn’t reappear even if a child sleeps in the next morning. Deep sleep is needed for a child’s brain to fully refresh and restore itself each night.

You can see an example of this below as illustrated by the thick, colourful line.

Over time, with too many late bedtimes and a shortened supply of Non-Rem sleep, the body and brain become sleep deprived.

Night wakings start to occur and the child, not feeling well-rested will start to act out, have tantrums or meltdowns.

It can create a vicious cycle, so it’s best to move bedtime up a touch earlier if you start to see this happen.

Reason #3 Why Your Toddler Won’t Go To Sleep

Finally, the last reason that bedtime can be extended is when expectations aren’t crystal clear.

In this article about how to end toddler bedtime battles, I talked about how kids need parents to be a confident pilot to steer them through the storm (of their big emotions, reactions, limit testing, etc). And this applies in particular to the whole bedtime wind down process.

It needs to be well-defined and consistently implemented.

If there is a lot of inconsistency each night, your child will feel insecure without structure. And what do they do when they feel like this?

They test the limits in an effort to define the rules for themselves.Boundaries will be pushed further and further to see where they end.

At first it might seem funny or cute (*cough*, *cough* naked somersaults *cough*) when such antics emerge, but it can quickly spiral out of control.

Unfortunately, if we allow things to go too far, then we get annoyed and react out of anger and frustration. Not really what we want during bedtime, right?

It may not seem logical, but when toddlers start negotiating, pleading or stalling, it’s their way of asking for limits. If bedtime is taking too long, what they really need are fair, firm and consistent rules.

The other component to this is that there needs to be follow through with implementing those rules. If bedtime is 7:00 pm and it’s 6:59 pm, and they haven’t settled down yet for story time, then follow through.  It’s essential that you stick to the rules that you have implemented and forgo those stories.

Will your child joyfully accept your decision, and hop gleefully into bed?

Uh, no. Not a chance.

But! They will quickly learn that you mean what you say and in turn, you will see a dramatic reduction to the stalling.In fact, this age group can respond much quicker to sleep training, expectations and changes than a baby will. Even though they can protest louder and longer, if you implement things correctly, it will quickly dissipate.

So there you have it.

Three of the most common reasons why our little ones resist bedtime and how to solve each of them.

If you have other issues with your toddler’s or preschooler’s sleep, be sure to join the Baby Sleep 101 Facebook page for more resources as well as grabbing your copy of the Sleep Solutions Guide for Toddlers and Preschoolers; Easy Tips for the Exhausted Parent. 

Too tired to read anything else? Just want a plan of action that’s done for you? Book a mini consult under the A La Carte options and we can plan out a step-by-step method that’s right for your family.