Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
173
Sleep Begets Sleep
January 22, 2024

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
Chapter 1 (only 16 pages!) outlines everything you need to know about your child's sleep.

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Introduction

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

Blog Posts 15, based on the United States of America Department of the Army Field Manual: Holistic Healing and Fitness, describe what really matters for your child’s sleep. If sleep is an important enough topic for national defense than surely sleep should be considered a serious topic for parenting!

Blog 173Sleep Begets Sleep

Q: If I keep my child up late at night, will he get more tired and then fall asleep easier at night?

A: No.

WHEN THE BEDTIME IS TOO LATE
What happens when children are allowed to fall asleep too late at night? They wake up short of sleep in the morning in a state of higher neurological arousal that in turn makes it harder or even impossible for them to nap well. The consequences of not napping well are that by the end of the day a child’s sleep tank is empty (Blog Posts 171 and 172) and she is in an even higher state of arousal, which makes it even more difficult for her to easily fall asleep and stay asleep at night. A vicious cycle is generated.

In contrast, an early bedtime permits long naps to occur because your child wakes in a lower state of neurological arousal. It is easier for parents to catch the wave of drowsy signs, and there is no witching hour. It becomes a virtuous cycle. Thus, begins the long arc of sleep begets sleep, from infancy to adolescence and beyond.

MOVE THE BEDTIME EARLIER
This may seem counterintuitive if your child is having trouble sleeping, but dramatic improvements occur even when children get very small amounts of extra sleep. Hyperarousal in your child causes difficulties in falling asleep and staying asleep. Early bedtimes dampen or eliminate hyperarousal. Early bedtimes will not necessarily cause your baby to wake up earlier in the morning. More sleep at the front end at night makes it easier for babies to sleep in later in the morning and/or wake up better rested.

Because your child starts the day better rested, she is more able to take longer naps.

Because she is more able to take longer naps, she is at a lower level of neurological arousal in the evening.

Because she is at a lower level of neurological arousal in the evening, it is easier for her to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.

Sleep begets sleep.

For more information on the bedtime:

Blog Post 99A

Blog Post 123

Comments

  1. If moving a baby’s bedtime earlier results in significantly more crying, could that mean the bedtime is too early?

    For context, in case it’s helpful—I am attempting to sleep train my 5.5-month-old but having trouble arriving at an appropriate bedtime. For the past few days I have put him down around 9:30 PM and he has cried for more than 40 minutes. (9:30 seemed to “work” the best before we started sleep training, though the most we could hope for on an average night was a 3-4 hour stretch of sleep and then wakings every 30-90 minutes after that). I finally tried an earlier bedtime tonight and got him down around 8:40, after a nap that ended at 6:15 and a little less than 3.5 hours of daytime sleep. He seemed sleepy (rubbing eyes, yawning), though I put him to bed awake. I was hopeful things would be better but he cried for about an hour straight and then on and off for more than another hour.

    Would you recommend we continue to shift his bedtime earlier? I’m worried that the crying tonight is a sign that I put him down too early and that perhaps we shouldn’t continue down this path. My husband and I are really at a loss.

    1. “He seemed sleepy (rubbing eyes…” are fatigue signs, not drowsy signs. Because you are overwhelmed, have your husband read carefully only the first few chapters in my book and decide on which sleep solution comports with your specific family values. I will help you navigate.

  2. Thank you for responding so quickly. I so wish we had read your book before we began. We are both reading it and learning a lot.

    We would like to continue the extinction method if it makes sense to do so, though we are now nine nights in with no reduction in crying (but his overnight sleep is better than it was). It is evident that the baby’s bedtime is far too late but we’re not sure how to get to a more appropriate bedtime. As I mentioned above, moving from a 9:20 bedtime to an 8:40 bedtime last night led to a marked increase in crying. I was hopeful it would be better tonight and assuming that consistency was key, so I put him to bed again at about 8:40 and he cried for almost as long as yesterday—until about 10:20. Do you have any suggestions as to how to fix this? Should we try to adjust his nap schedule to accommodate a much earlier bedtime and just put him down when he exhibits drowsy sighs even if we end up with a bedtime much earlier than he’s used to, or should do it more gradually?

    The other issue I’ve identified from what I’ve read so far is that his naps are not as restful as they should be. I’ve been walking him around the house and rocking as seemed necessary to try to help him fall asleep and stay asleep (because putting him in the crib usually doesn’t work).

    We will continue reading but any advice you can provide would be so appreciated.

    1. You may wish to immediately impose an age-appropriate night sleep schedule because night sleep rhythms are well developed by 5.5 months. Day sleep schedules begin to evolve around 3-4 months of age and are well established by 6 months of age. Tell me whether you wish to work only on night sleep or instead on night plus day sleep and whether you accept doing a quick fix over several days. How willing is your husband to help out?

  3. husband is happy to help. He’s just not available during the day and preferably not in the middle of the night because of his work schedule. We’re actually switching in 2.5 weeks—he will take his paternity leave for 3 months and care for the baby during the day and I will return to work. We’re job to help the baby sleep better by then.

    We’d like to work on both night and day sleep if you feel that is most effective (as I gather from your book).

    We’re open to a quick fix over a few days. That’s what we thought we were doing when we started leaving him to “cry it out” nine days ago, but it has dragged on and on with the crying not lessening and sometimes getting worse.

    1. Consider starting this Friday if you need your husband for support, if not, start now, if, and only if, you can commit to 3-5 nights. Your past attempt was doomed to fail because the bedtime was too late.
      The temporary falling asleep time is 5:30pm (you have bathed, fed, and soothed; you are putting him down hopefully drowsy but awake and leaving the room at 5:30pm). Extinction with 1-2 feedings overnight and you do not “start the day” until 5-6am but you do not wake him if he is asleep then. Before the “start the day”, extinction is in place. Read the section on the “Nap Drill’ for your attempt to get a major midmorning nap and mid-day nap +/- a third nap. All naps are in the cot/crib with ‘drowsy but awake’ as a goal. No new nap starts at or after 3pm. If he is asleep at 3pm, do not wake him.
      Keep a detailed record of sleeping and crying (mild, moderate, intense). In the future, with better naps, the bedtime might become a little later.
      Does this help? Let me know how it goes.

  4. Thank you so much for this! We will start right away. The baby is napping on my lap right now. He awoke just before 7 this morning (and overnight at 2:45 and 4:50 AM).
    I did try to put him in the crib for a mid-morning nap around 9 and then for a second one around noon.

    For the first nap, he kept waking up as I tried to put him down, so I nursed him to sleep and coslept with him but he only slept for about half an hour anyway. For the second nap I tried putting him down drowsy but awake, but he started crying and I waited about seven minutes until he was getting really worked up, and then gave up and nursed him to sleep again. But I will read the nap drill section and be vigilant about it.

    Would you suggest trying to put him in the crib for a third nap depending on when he wakes up from this one? I’m hoping to start him off in the best possible position tonight.

    Thank you again for your time and assistance!

  5. I read the nap drill section and I think I found the answer to my question. I will attempt to put him down around 2:30 but will pick him up right away if he cries.

    Thank you again for your help. I will let you know how this goes.

  6. Just wanted to update you on how things went.

    The baby ultimately didn’t end up going down for a third nap. I put him down at about 5:30 PM and he cried intensely (and screamed) for almost two hours, until 7:20. Then he slept for 4 hours and woke up to feed. He fell asleep fairly easily (cried just for a few mins) and slept for another 4 hours, approximately. He then fed again and cried for 28 minutes when I put him back down until he fell asleep, at which point he slept for another hour and a half, waking up at 6 AM. I put him down for a nap at 8:40 and he cried for 50 minutes before finally falling asleep and staying asleep from 9:30-11:45. And I will try to get him to nap again in a few minutes (it’s 1:50 where I am as I write this). If you happen to see this in time, I’d appreciate it if you could please let me know your thoughts on whether I should leave him to cry again if he doesn’t go down easily (I know he shouldn’t begin to nap after 3 PM).

    Thank you again for all your help!

    1. The nap drill discussion in my book is primarily focused on the midmorning and midday nap; trying for a third nap is different (a no-cry nap) because we want to protect an early bedtime. For now, the key is to keep the super-early bedtime. Does this help?

  7. Sorry I didn’t make this clear but I was actually talking about the second nap. I put him down for the first at 8:40 but he cried until 9:30 and then slept until 11:45. I thought a nap around 2 would be appropriate but wasn’t sure whether to put him in the crib and let him cry or let him nap on me to make sure he slept. I ended up letting him nap on me for 45 minutes, from 2:20-3:05. We didn’t attempt a third nap today.

    I put him down around 5:30, so we’ll see how it goes tonight. He’s been crying for a little over half an hour but hopefully it won’t be quite as long tonight.

    1. Understood. Focus on the good news, he napped in the crib for over 2 hours! I know it is hard to hear him cry, but please try to not let him nap on you. He will sleep longer and better in the crib, plus, you get to take a well-deserved break.

  8. Okay, we’ll do all naps in the crib today. I thought he might cry through the nap window then be overtired at bedtime if I put him down, so I was trying to ensure he napped. I should have read what you said more carefully.

    He cried for an hour and 14 minutes when I put him down for the night, from 5:38-6:52 PM, but then he slept until 12:03 AM. He woke up to feed and then slept from 12:31-4:06 and fed again and wouldn’t go back to sleep. I just went to get him a few minutes ago, at 5 AM, after he cried for 40 minutes. Could that mean we should make bedtime a little later? I don’t mind waking up at 5 AM with him but I feel bad that he cried for that long to start his morning, and he’s pretty wide awake now but will probably be tired long before 9 AM for his mid-morning nap. (He similarly had a hard time falling back asleep yesterday after his last overnight feed—it took 28 minutes.)

    I’d appreciate it if you could please let me know your thoughts when you can. Thank you again. We are so grateful for your invaluable guidance.

    1. At 5:38pm and at 12:31am, was he drowsy but awake when you left the room?
      Are you breast milk or formula feeding?
      Think of a midmorning nap, around 9am, and a mid-day nap, around 12-2pm, as goals. For now, these naps might occur much earlier but try to stretch him a little to achieve these goals eventually. The early bedtime is essential to achieve these goals. Is this all right for you?

  9. I breastfeed. And yes he was drowsy but awake when I left the room.

    The goals are fine and make sense to me. I’m just not sure what to do when the schedule is thrown off. Yesterday he went to sleep after his second night feeding (after crying for a while) and woke up at 6 so I put him down around 9 and it was okay. But because this morning he’s been up since 4 it seems a little more complicated. I thought that maybe he was having a hard time getting back to sleep because he felt relatively well rested and that making bedtime just a little later might help him sleep until 5 or 6.

    Should I have left him to cry longer this morning? Or helped him get to sleep through other means, like rocking and putting him down asleep? I feel as though I ruined his schedule for the day, but I wasn’t sure what else to do once it was 5 AM and he seemed unlikely to go back to sleep.

    He fell asleep when I was feeding him around 6:45 (after more than 2.5 hours of being awake) but woke up one or two minutes later, after I put him down, so at least now I can get him a little closer to 9 AM.

    I think I can keep him up at least until 8:15-8:30. Hopefully he’ll have a good long nap again and then we should be on track again, right?

    1. “I think I can keep him up at least until 8:15-8:30. Hopefully he’ll have a good long nap again and then we should be on track again, right?” Yes. How many nights have you used the 5:30pm falling asleep time?

    1. Got it. Please watch for suggestions of improvement for night sleep (perhaps shorter latency to sleep onset, longer bouts of uninterrupted sleep, etc.) over the next few nights. Does “he slept until 12:03 AM. He woke up to feed and then slept from 12:31-4:06” mean that you were with him for about 30 minutes breast feeding and soothing?

  10. I will. Actually, there was improvement on both counts last night. His first stretch of sleep was over 5 hrs and was just under 4 the night before. And he cried for an hour and 14 minutes, down from an hour and 53 minutes (though it still is much longer than the average mentioned in your book, unfortunately). But progress is heartening! Also he napped for about an hour just now (8:47-9:51 AM and had only cried for about ten minutes before falling asleep.

    And no, I fed him first until about 12:15, then put him down and he fussed for about 10-15 mins but it wasn’t too bad.

    1. Please be optimistic that night sleep will improve fairly quickly with less crying. Overall, improvement will be sequential with night sleep improving first, then morning naps, and then midday naps. Please spend the least amount of time possible soothing him after a middle of the night feed. Perhaps a gentle hug and a kiss goodnight, if you are comfortable with this.

  11. I usually just kiss him, tell him to go to sleep and that I love him, and then put him down after feeding him. He often falls asleep while I’m feeding him but wakes up when I put him down.

    Do I treat the second nap the same as the first? (I.e. leave him to cry for an hour if he won’t go to sleep?) This is the first time I’ve attempted to do this for the second nap. He went down quietly and lay there for a few minutes, then started kicking his legs. He eventually started crying and screaming after about ten minutes and has been doing so for about 40 minutes now.

    1. Please consider shortening the duration of nursing by several minutes so that when you put him down he is not deep asleep. The ‘Nap Drill’ applies to both major naps.

  12. It turns out he had a dirty diaper. I went to check on him after about an hour. I feel terrible. I may have noticed if I’d be watching the monitor carefully but I went to take a shower and left the monitor with my visiting in-laws, who wouldn’t have known.

  13. Things have mostly been better but an issue we’re having is early morning wakings. He’s been waking up between 3:45-4:30 for a feed since we started and then having a hard time going back down. We’ve been putting him down drowsy but awake every time (until this morning).

    Early Thursday morning (the first morning after we began your 5:30 bedtime plan), he woke up for the second time at 3:48 AM, nursed, then cried for 28 minutes but eventually slept from 4:33-6:03. On Friday he woke up for the second time at 4 AM, nursed, then cried for 40 minutes and we started our day at 5 AM. Yesterday he woke up at 4:44 AM and by the time he was done nursing it was about 5 AM, so we started our day, but his first nap was early (8:12-9:30 AM), and his second nap was short (11:56 AM-12:22 PM). We let him cry for a few minutes after the second nap but he was wide awake at that point so we took him out of the crib. We tried a third nap at about 2:30 but he didn’t go down and then got really fussy around 4 PM until I put him down at 5:21 PM. He slept immediately and stayed asleep until 9:36 PM (4 hrs 15 mins) but then cried hysterically for 12 mins when I put him down. Because he’d stopped doing that overnight, I thought something might be wrong and went in and checked his diaper and fed him again (all done quietly with minimal light and minimal soothing). Then I put him back down and he cried for 30 mins until 10:43 PM, and then slept until 12:57 AM (2 hrs 14 mins). Then he fed and went back down after a couple of minutes then woke up at 3:50 AM and wouldn’t go back down. He cried for 20 mins then I tried nursing and rocking him back to sleep but failed. He seemed wide awake so we went down and sat in the dark for a while until he got tired and started falling asleep. Eventually I nursed him again she and he was falling asleep on me, so I snuck him into his bed fully asleep at about 5:25 and he’s been asleep since then (it’s now 6:10 AM as I write this). I know that’s a huge no-no but I didn’t know what else to do. I thought his sleep issues yesterday might have been caused at least in part by his waking up too early and nap schedule being off.

    Do you have any suggestions for handling these early wakings? Everyone is better rested and happier but I’m worried he’ll continue to regress and that eventually we’ll be back where we started. And it’s harder to just let him cry now. I worry something is wrong because he’s gotten pretty good at going right to sleep on his own most of the time.

    My husband and I have been tempted to try pushing bedtime back slightly later (maybe 15-20 minutes) to see if that helps him sleep a little later, but we don’t want to inadvertently make things worse just as they were getting better.

    Sorry this is so long. I didn’t want to leave out anything that might be important. If anything doesn’t make sense it’s probably because I’m pretty tired and typing on my phone but I’m happy to clarify anything. Please let me know your thoughts when you can. Thank you, as always. We are so, so grateful for your help.

    1. “He cried for 20 mins then I tried nursing and rocking him back to sleep but failed. He seemed wide awake so we went down and sat in the dark for a while until he got tired and started falling asleep… I know that’s a huge no-no ” When a parent is inconsistent (a little or a lot) regarding extinction, success may be delayed or failure might occur; it’s impossible to predict outcomes with inconsistencies.

      “My husband and I have been tempted to try pushing bedtime back slightly later (maybe 15-20 minutes) to see if that helps him sleep a little later, but we don’t want to inadvertently make things worse just as they were getting better.” Delaying the bedtime to get a later wake up at this age is unlikely to work.

      Please create an outline of Day 1, Day 2, etc. so I can see the big picture. I appreciate the detail but seeing the forrest is sometimes better than seeing all the trees.

  14. Update: he woke up at 6:30 AM (after about an hour of sleep) in a great mood. We’ll take him outside for a bit when the sun comes up and put him to nap around noon. Hopefully putting him down asleep this one time isn’t destructive to the progress we’ve made.

    1. Amen to that! Focus on your progress and enjoy the warmth of the winter sun (I assume you are in the northern hemisphere).

  15. Yes, we’re a few hours east of you I think.

    He cried for the entirety of his mid-morning nap but my husband went to get him and discovered that his diaper was dirty. This happened two days ago and I thought my mother-in-law didn’t notice on the monitor because she’s less familiar with him, but my husband and I were both watching the monitor just now and didn’t realize. He did look like he was drifting off to sleep, though still fussing and moving around, and then started crying more and more intensely. I assume it happened just before then. I suppose it’s harder to tell through the monitor (with the fuzzy night vision image and white noise in the background).

    We put him down 20 minutes ago, around 11 AM because he was showing drowsy and fatigue signs and he’s been crying since.

    Anyway, here’s what his schedule has looked like:

    Night 1:
    5:32-7:25 PM – Bedtime, crying intensely
    7:25-11:14 PM – Sleep
    11:15-11:32 PM – Feed
    11:32-11:46 PM – Put in crib, crying on and off until he fell asleep
    11:46 PM-3:48 AM – Sleep
    3:49-4:04 AM – Feed (did not appear drowsy after feed but put him down anyway)
    4:05-4:33 AM – Crying intensely
    4:33-6:03 AM – Sleep
    6:03 AM – Start day

    Day following night 1:
    8:40-9:30 AM – Put down for nap, crying intensely
    9:31-11:45 AM – Sleep
    2:21-3:06 PM – Nap 2

    Night 2:
    5:38-6:52 PM – Bedtime, crying intensely
    6:52 PM-12:03 AM – Sleeping
    12:04-12:15 AM – Feed
    12:15-12:30 AM – Put back down, fussing and kicking legs, a little mild crying.
    12:31-4:06 AM – Sleep
    4:07-4:19 AM – Feed
    4:20-5:00 AM – Put back down, crying intensely
    5:00 AM – Start day

    Day following night 2:
    6:56-6:59 AM – Sleep. (Fell asleep on me after a feed. Put him down because he’d been awake for almost 3 hrs but he woke up right away, then seemed to have a little more energy.)
    8:37-8:47 AM – Put down for nap, cried for ten mins
    8:47-9:51 AM – Nap 1
    12:15-1:15 PM – Attempted Nap 2. (Put down drowsy but awake and he looked like he was drifting off to sleep, though still fussing, but then cried for an hour and we discovered subsequently he had soiled his diaper.)
    2:11-3:05 PM – Nap (took him for a walk and he fell asleep in the stroller).
    5:41-9:26 PM – Sleep (put down and he went right to sleep)
    9:27-10:00 PM – Feed
    10:00-1:51 AM – Sleep
    1:52-2:04 AM – Feed
    2:09-4:44 AM – Sleep (after fussing for a few seconds and kicking legs for a few minutes, but no crying)
    4:45 to near 5 AM – Feed
    5 AM: Start day (he was wide awake)

  16. Sorry, just realized I forgot to indicate night 3 above. Also wanted to clarify that I’ve been indicating overnight feeds but not day feeds, although I can include them if you think they’re relevant.

    Also, we’re approaching 45 minutes of crying through our second nap attempt and I’m worried he’s going to cry the entire hour again. What do I do if we get to that point? It seems like following my instincts just seems to make things worse.

    Anyway I’ll continue here.

    Day following night 3:
    8:12-9:30 AM – Nap 1 (went down right away)
    11:56 AM-12:22 PM – Nap 2 (put down then because he was drowsy)
    5:21-9:36 PM – Sleep (left him drowsy but awake but he fell asleep right away).
    9:37-9:47 PM – Feed
    9:48-10:09 PM – Put him down, intense crying
    10:00-10:12 PM – Checked and changed diaper (somewhat wet) then fed him and put him down again
    10:12-10:42 PM – Mostly intense crying
    10:43-12:57 AM – Sleep
    12:57-1:05 AM – Feed
    1:08-3:50 AM – Sleep, after about three minutes of crying
    3:51-4:04 AM – Feed
    4:05-4:24 AM – Put down even though he seemed wide awake, moderate to intense crying.
    4:25-5:18 AM – Sit downstairs in dark (while I tried to figure out what to do. He seemed wide awake initially and then began to seem a little drowsy.)
    5:18-5:24 AM – Feed (to sleep)
    5:24-6:29 AM – Sleep (put down fully asleep and placed him carefully so he wouldn’t wake up)
    8:42-9:42 – Nap 1 attempt. Was drowsy but was fussing and moving around after I put him down then ramped up to intense crying and didn’t stop. Turned out he’d soiled his diaper. Changed him, fed him eventually and he cheered up and was playing.
    11:03-11:51 AM (**now**) Nap 2 attempt after he started exhibiting drowsy and fatigue signs. Has cried throughout

  17. I really don’t know what to do at this point. I’ve been trying really hard to stick to the plan that you proposed. Where I’ve deviated (such as putting him down asleep this morning), it was an attempt to have him not be overtired from being awake too long so that he could stay on schedule. But somehow I keep making it worse and after a few days of decent sleep I’m worried we may be back to square one.

    As I write this we’re 56 minutes into the second nap attempt and he has been crying throughout. I’m not sure what to do when we go to get him at the hour mark. He’s been awake for over 5 hours and will probably not go down for the third nap without crying, and I don’t see how he could make it until bedtime at this point.

  18. Also wanted to note in case it’s helpful that he’s fine now. We were speculating as to whether he was teething or hungry or too cold or had a dirty diaper again. But as soon as my husband brought him down he was fine. He’s lying in my lap playing as we try to figure out where to go from here.

    1. How old is he? How many nights are you into this sleep plan with rigid consistency?
      Currently, in general, have you seen any improvements? If so, in what areas?
      Currently, in general, in what areas have you seen no improvements?

  19. He’s 25 weeks old and tonight will be the sixth night. He is sleeping for longer stretches more consistently and is getting about 9-10 hours of overnight sleep instead of 6-8 hours. The fact that he’s now usually taking naps in the crib is also wonderful. So there is a lot of improvement, which we’re grateful for.

    Yesterday was tough for all of us, but I’m hoping it was a one-off. He cried through the first two nap attempts and then eventually slept for only 20 minutes. He also woke up shortly after I put him to bed and cried for over an hour before going back to sleep.

    Assuming yesterday was a fluke, the main issue is that since we started this new schedule he has been waking up well before 5 AM, usually 3-4 AM, and not being able to get back to sleep. He’s usually pretty wide awake at this point and seems relatively well-rested. He only went back to sleep on his own on the first night, when he cried for 28 minutes and fell back asleep, and last night, when he woke up around 3 AM, fed, and then cried for over an hour before going back to sleep. I’ve tried letting him cry for 40 minutes until 5 AM and then starting the day, rocking him back to sleep and putting him down asleep, and just starting the day before 5 AM, but none of these options seem ideal.

    Thank you again for your time and your help.

    1. To help correct the too early wake-up, we can try to move the bedtime later, but please understand, it’s a bit complicated and it might not work. The conflicting goals are to have a later bedtime to build homeostatic sleep pressure to shift his wake-up time to a later time and to avoid a second wind when we keep him up later. Here we go:
      He’s crying very early in the morning and you go to him around 5am to “start the day”. After caring for him, do not immediately put him back to sleep but keep him up for a while (although your goal is around 9am, you might be only able to keep him up an extra 20-30 minutes every few days in the beginning). Our goal is to use his morning circadian nap rhythm, around 9am, as an aid to have a good quality nap. Again, our goals are conflicting. Because of the preceding night sleep, this attempt of stretching his wakeful time in the morning for the morning nap will be more successful than for the midday-nap. No matter when this nap occurs and its duration, you again try to stretch his midday nap toward the goal of 12noon-2pm. These nap attempts are part of the nap drill. A third, no-cry nap, may be attempted before 3pm. By trying to shift his naps to a later time, he is less likely to be way overtired between 4-5pm. Then, this will permit you to start pushing the bedtime to a later hour, maybe 10-20 minutes every few night. Where you will end up with the bedtime hour depends on the timing and duration of the naps. If you begin to see bedtime battles, long latency to sleep onset, or night wakings, then you know that you have pushed the bedtime too late. Throughout this attempt to shift his schedule, you will see more presleep arousal, hopefully mild, so he might require extra soothing before naps and the bedtime. Do all of this simultaneously and please go slowly. How does this sound?

  20. Hi, I hope you’re doing well! I just wanted to update you on how things are going. My baby is doing great! I’m back at work as of this week and for the past few days he’s been consistently going to sleep without a fuss. I now put him down between 6:45 and 7, depending on how he naps and when he appears drowsy, and he wakes for the day between 5 and 6 AM.

    And he’s been consistently taking his naps! He actually seems to go down more easily for my husband, which works out now that he’s home.

    He’s still waking up once or twice a night to feed but I don’t mind.

    I don’t know how to thank you enough. Is there an address we could use to send you a small token of our appreciation? I’m so grateful for your time, expertise, and patience with my long and never-ending questions.

    1. You are welcome. Please be so kind and consider writing a narrative report about your child’s sleep and post it here for me to use as a Blog Post. Your voice would resonate with mothers more than mine. If you do so, the more detail the better and please include the role of your husband, your feelings, how easy or difficult it was for you, how you feel now, and any recommendations for other mothers going through sleep difficulties with their infant.

      Separately, be very sensitive to drowsy signs between 4-5pm and sometimes, when naps are off or he has a little cold or whatever, go for a super-early bedtime (5:30-6:00pm) when needed.

  21. Hello, I hope you’re doing well.

    I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t written the post yet because just as I thought we were getting into a good sleep rhythm, things went off the rails. We blamed travel, teething, and illness, but are realizing that perhaps we were just making excuses, as you discuss in one part of your book. It’s been tough. He is very resistant to putting himself to sleep as he used to. If we put him down drowsy but awake, he gets on all fours, sits up, or stands up, and screams until we come back. So we’ve gotten in the bad habit of putting him down asleep (and sometimes it takes many attempts over a couple of hours to do so). He also has been waking up every couple of hours and doing the same thing.

    He sounds like he’s in such great distress that it is very difficult to leave him to cry it out, though my husband attempted to do so early on and found the baby didn’t stop until my husband went to rescue him about an hour later. We are trying the extinction method again as of tonight and hoping for the best!

    1. Crying is hard but sleeplessness is harder. Because he is short on sleep, for extinction to work, I suggest a lights out at 5:30pm for 3-5 nights. Please do not attempt extinction unless you can commit to it for 4-5 nights. What is the underlying real reason his sleep got worse?

  22. I’m not certain. I think a number of things may have contributed. We took two long car trips over the last month or so. He slept in the car and then had trouble sleeping at night. He doesn’t seem to like the travel crib and I think gets wound up in new environments. He was teething and is just getting over a bad cold. And he isn’t used to getting himself down to sleep since learning to stand (as I’ll describe below). We tried early bedtimes to help him reset but he started waking up several times and wanting to be soothed back to sleep (and we caved), and then he started fighting bedtime too. And we have been reluctant to let him cry for too long—especially when it seemed like he wouldn’t be able to get himself down on his own from standing or sitting up in his crib, when his sleep environnent wasn’t optimal (like we were traveling), or when he wasn’t feeling well.

    Last night I put him down at 7 and it took him 2 hours to fall asleep. He cried for 40 minutes but after that he just seemed to have trouble lying down. He was sitting up and nodding off but wouldn’t lie down, and when he eventually managed to get down he woke himself up and started crying again. He did that a number of times before finally lying down and staying there. He slept from 9 PM until about 6, which is a much longer stretch than he has had in a while but obviously not enough—and he was clearly still tired when he woke up this morning.

    We will put him down early tonight and hopefully that will help.

  23. We did try the reset a couple of times. I think a big part of it is his current difficulty lying down and getting to sleep. When we initially used the extinction method a couple of months ago, he couldn’t stand or get into a sitting position on his own, so he would just lie there and cry until he eventually fell asleep. Now, as soon as we put him down on his back, he stands up, or sits up, and won’t go back down for a very long time. Last night I put him down at 6:45 and he cried for only a couple of minutes, but then he fell asleep sitting up and it took him an hour to get down into a normal position and stay asleep. Before that he sat there and swayed back and forth with his eyes closed (for the most part). A few times he sort of doubled over from the seated position, leaning forward and putting his head down on the mattress. He lay like that for a few minutes and then wake up and cry, then sit up and eventually start swaying again.

    But my husband says, as of this afternoon, that he is getting a little better at lying down and going to sleep, so hopefully that will improve.

    He’s due to start daycare next week and then we will lose control over his naps during the week but we’ll see how it goes.

    1. Try putting him in his crib, drowsy but awake, standing holding on to the rail. Now he is calm and has only one direction to go, whenever he is ready. The variable of daycare means that naps will vary more and he will probably need an earlier bedtime and a strict sleep schedule on weekends to compensate for irregular and sometimes brief naps at daycare.

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