Let's chat about "False Starts"

Let's chat about "False Starts"

Have you ever put your little one down at night but then they wake within an hour? This is what we call “False start.” This can be very frustrating for parents & can be difficult to problem solve because there are various reasons why this can occur. Let's dive into some of the reasons why your little one is experiencing false starts.

  1. Wake Windows are off: When your little one has had too much awake time before bedtime, it can make them overtired. When this happens, their body produces cortisol (stress/wake-up hormone) that makes it hard for them to stay asleep. On the other hand, if bedtime is too early & they haven’t had enough awake time, they may experience a false start because they lack sleep pressure. Sleep pressure, or sleep drive, is like the body's way of saying, "Hey, it's time to sleep!" Think of it as a natural signal, and scientists call it adenosine. When we have the right amount of this sleep pressure, it helps us easily drift off to sleep and stay asleep soundly. Sleep pressure builds the longer we stay awake. This is why it is important to find your little one's "sweet spot" wake window to ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep pressure to have better sleep.


    Discomfort: When your child is experiencing discomfort such a reflux, gassiness, or tummy aches, they may also experience false starts. This can occur especially if your bub has just started solids or falling asleep during a feed before bedtime. They may wake up because their digestive system is still getting used to food other than milk or if they are genuinely hungry because they didn’t finish their feed before bedtime. 

    Tip: Offer solids dinner early (1.5 hours before bedtime) can help your little one digest food better before night sleep or introducing “new food” at breakfast or lunchtime can make a difference. If falling asleep during their last feed before bedtime, try offering it to them 30 minutes earlier. 

    Moreover, if your little one is teething, their discomfort can intensity more at night. This is because they don't have any distractions like they do when they are awake during the day, therefore they become more aware of the pain they are experiencing at night.
  3. Environment is off: Creating an optimal sleep environment can make a big difference when it comes to a child’s sleep. Assess your little one’s sleeping environment:
  • Is light sneaking in?
  • Is it too hot or too cold?
  • Are your neighbours loud? (consider using a sound machine).
  • Does your child have things over their cot like a mobile that might be stimulating them? (consider moving this above their change mat instead).

    Tip: Even consider your environment at home before bedtime; is it too stimulating? (TV on, lots of light). Maybe start dimming lights and turning screens off an hour before bedtime.

    Read my blog post "What causes babies & toddlers to resist sleep" for more tips on creating a conducive sleep environment. 

If you need more support with your little one's sleep, I've got you covered! I have 1:1 Support options available to help you achieve your sleep goals for your child. This includes a comprehensive sleep analysis of your child based on a completion of a 3-4 days sleep log & detailed questionnaire. From this, I am able to tailor a sleep plan specifically for your child and their temperament, and ensure that the methods sit right with you as a parent and is well-suited to your family. This also includes a 1 week or 2 week support, where I can hold your hand through implementing the plan via phone calls and Whatsapp text messaging. If you would like to tackle your child's sleep on your own and at your own pace but just need the tools, my 5–24 Month Sleep Guide or 2-4 Years Old Sleep Guide is just what you need. I'll teach you all you need to know to achieve great sleep at night, during the day, and through every sleep challenge until your little one turns 4.






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