How to Deal with Early Risers

April 07, 2019

Sleep is essential for us to get the most out of the day, and not getting enough of it can affect everything from mood to appetite to brain functionality. So what do you do when your child is waking up at 5:30 a.m. and they (and you) are exhausted by midday? This is a common problem, which leads to a plethora of resources when it comes to solutions and suggestions.

Some simple solutions need nothing more than an Amazon subscription — there are alarm clocks with stop lights attached that you can set up for your kids. Red means stay in bed, and green means time to get up! This can also be achieved with a lamp that has a timer, and when the lamp turns on the kids can get out of bed or leave the room.

Parenting blog Your Modern Family has another simple solution. Pick the hour that you want your kids to stay in bed until (her example was 7:00) and tape it over the minutes on an alarm clock. Tell your kids that once the hour matches that number they can get up, but not before!

There are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to come up with solutions: is your child getting up seriously early, but well-rested? Try slowly moving the bedtime back, because they may just not need as much sleep as other kids. Or, you could try switching up the nap time schedule. It could be that they have a nap too close to bedtime and they don’t need to sleep as much during the night. You could also cut down on the amount or length of naps to figure out the right formula. Another factor to consider: are they waking up hungry? It can help to give your child a high-protein snack before bed as a preventative measure.

Next, look around your child’s room. Is it sleep-friendly, or is it too bright or with distracting objects that could keep them awake? It could be worthwhile to invest in some blinds that completely darken the bedroom so they don’t awaken at first light. If none of these suggestions work, your child is old enough and won’t be interrupting the sleep of their siblings, you could give them permission to play or read a book quietly until you wake up, or even quietly watch TV.

If your child isn’t old enough? It seems as though the only suggestion left is to embrace the early bird life for a few years, or at least until you can figure out the right formula of naps and bedtime. On the bright side, think of all the time you have for the things you didn’t have a chance to do before… Good luck!

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