Parenthood comes with its fair share of mysteries, and one of the most confounding can be split nights – those moments when your child's sleep is unexpectedly interrupted, even hosting a party for 1 at 2am in their sleep space! So what causes these split nights or fragmented sleep?
Bedtime is Too Early: Believe it or not, an early bedtime can sometimes be the culprit behind split nights. While it may seem counterintuitive, putting your child to bed too early may disrupt their sleep cycle, causing them to wake up in the middle of the night. Finding the right balance between an early bedtime and an age-appropriate schedule is key to ensuring a more restful night.
Awake Window Before Bed is Too Short: The awake window, or the time your little one spends awake before bedtime, plays a crucial role in their sleep quality. If this awake time is too short, your child may not be sufficiently tired, leading to difficulties in falling and staying asleep. Adjusting the awake window based on your child's age and energy levels can contribute to a smoother consolidated sleep.
Too Much Overall Day Sleep: While naps are essential for a growing bub, excessive daytime sleep can spill over into the night time, causing frequent wake-ups. Monitoring your child's daytime sleep, ensuring it aligns with age-appropriate guidelines, can help strike the right balance between day & night sleep.
Developmental Phase/Learning a New Skill: Learning new skills and reaching developmental milestones is an exciting part of childhood but can often disrupt sleep patterns. Whether it's rolling, crawling or even standing these milestones can lead to restless sleep and unexpected wakes overnight to practice. Understanding that these phases are temporary and trying to keep your resettling consistent.
How to Shift these split nights:
Adjust Awake Windows: Tailor the awake window before bedtime to suit your little ones age, ensuring they are appropriately tired when bedtime.
Monitor Daytime Sleep: Keep track of your child's overall daytime sleep and age appropriate routine. Are they ready to drop or trim down on a nap?
Recognise developmental phases: Learning new skills can impact sleep temporarily. Be patient, adjust routines as needed, and try to give them space. Sometimes when we “force” sleep to happen this can only exacerbate the situation. Encourage lots of practice of this new skill during the day and it should pass in a few days.
Solving the puzzle of split nights involves recognising the specific factors and trying to keep this on track with minimal disruption. By understanding the impact of bedtime, awake windows, daytime sleep, and developmental phases, parents can navigate these challenges with patience and adaptability. Remember, each child is unique, and finding the right formula may require a bit of trial and error. With thoughtful adjustments, you can help your child enjoy more peaceful and uninterrupted nights of sleep.