How do you deal with an early morning waking that happens at the exact same time each day?


Hi there! For the past week my 5 month old has had very early wake ups, 4:26 to the dot! I’m wondering if this is just a phase and I should deal or should I go in and try and soothe him back to sleep. I should say that he goes to bed at 6:30 and we are down to typically one wake up at 1/2am and before this early morning wake up trend his wake up time was 6:30. Any suggestions?

I need a little more information before I can tell exactly what is happening. If he is totally chipper and ready to go in the morning, then his circadian rhythm is probably telling his body to be awake at 4:26. The fix for that would be to keep it dark until his target wake time (I assume 6:30, since that is what he was doing) and keep it bright in the evening until his bedtime. You may need to shift bedtime a little later for a few days to shift his circadian drive to sleep later in the morning. On the other hand, it could be that he is just done sleeping. A ten hour stretch of sleep is definitely on the short side, but not unheard of if he’s taking lots of long naps. For example, if he’s getting 4 hours of naps, then that 10 hour night stretch may be just what he needs. Finally, it’s also possible that he’s dropped some calories during the day due to being distracted and he’s now hungry at that early hour. To fix that issue, I’d work on upping his daytime calories and possibly pushing him through the 1/2 feeding and offering a feeding later in the night to hold him off to a later time in the morning. The complicated thing with this is that it might be a combination of these issues and fixes, which can make it a little tricky to fix! I hope that gives you a few ideas to start with. Good luck!

I am wondering if his circadian rhythm is off…good point. He has been taking a longer afternoon nap and I tend to have to wake him up if it gets close to his bed and often that makes him grumpy. Aside from keeping it light at night later and keeping it dark in the morning longer so it starts to shift his circadian rhythm do you have any tips?

I would definitely let him take a nice long last nap in order to allow him to be in bright light later in the evening. I would also push his bedtime temporarily later if he gets a nice long last nap. It’s not the late bedtime that will shift wake time, but being exposed to bright light in the evening. It doesn’t seem like much, but manipulating his light-dark cycle while also keeping him rested through offering nice long naps should do the trick if this is the problem. You can certainly try to get him back to sleep in the morning as well, but if he won’t sleep just keep it dark and that should be enough to allow his wake time to shift later in the future.

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