If you've got early risers in your household, this can play havoc with the sleep for the rest of the family and can mean that you are all not getting enough rest. It's a tricky one to tackle, when your kids bound out of bed, seemingly full of energy and looking like they've had enough sleep, particularly when your clock is showing a shockingly early start. Similar to the Grand of Duke of York in the nursery rhyme, unfortunately with kids, once they are up, they are up and there is little chance of getting them back to sleep unless you possess enviable sleep whispering skills.
However, there are a few other ways to tackle the issue of early risers, that is unless you enjoy the ritual 5am wake up call, but like most things, it's a case of trial and error to try to find the solution that works with your children and works with your family. Here are a few suggestions, that might just save your sleep:
Sleep Training Use a special alarm clock such as the GroClock which is a 'sleep training' device to help your children understand when it truly is 'wakey wakey' time. All you need to do is place the GroClock near your child's bed, and let them know that they can get up when they see the sun. The clock will move from the 'stars' image to the 'sun' and kids will soon learn when they really should be getting up and out of bed, and it's not at 5am! This obviously works best on children who are able to understand the images, so likely once your child is aged 2 and over. It is a good idea to start moving towards your desired wake up time in incremental steps so that you are slowly moving towards your goal sleeping times rather than trying to do much change all at once.
Reward charts If you've got kids older than 3, rewards charts can work really well in terms of talking to them about your expectations and then rewarding them as they try to sleep in just that little bit later. It is a great idea to embark on positive reinforcements for behavior rather than disciplining them for waking up too early, which may well be out of their own control.
Cot Time If your child is still in a cot, and is waking early and waking up the household once they are awake, then you could try putting some toys in their cot so that when they do wake up early, they have some quiet entertainment to keep them occupied for a short while whilst the rest of the household gets some shut-eye. Sometimes, infants will even go back to sleep after a short period of distraction.
Bedtime Routines Many parents whose kids sleep through and sleep in well, swear by a sound bedtime routine night after night. By having a solid bedtime routine that is repeated night after night your child will go to bed peacefully and with security which in turn can lead to a sounder sleep. Think about a calming routine such as bath time, story time, a drink and then tucked into bed. Having a dimly lit room during story time will also assist with creating a calming atmosphere. Think about your own bedtime routine, and see if there are any changes that could be made.
Room Conditions Have a look at your child's sleeping area and check that there are no mitigating factors that could be causing your child to wake up early in the morning.
Look to rule out the following:
Room too cold in the morning.
Noisy room (e.g. is the room right next door to the neighbours dog barking in the morning)
Room too light
Whilst you can't change many of these factors, you could consider investing in things like a white noise machine to block out external noises, blackout blinds for too much light and a sleeping bag or duvet if the room is too cold. It's a good idea to consider whether any of these external factors are playing a part.
Bedtimes As your child gets older, then their bedtime should also change accordingly. If you have a school aged child still going to bed at 7am, then they'll likely wake up once they've had their 10 (or so) hours sleep, which would mean an early wake up of 5am. It's not always true that a late bedtime equals a late wake up, but kids only need a certain amount of sleep and when they've had it, you can't blame them for being bright eyed and bushy tailed first thing.
Nap Time If your older (pre school) children are still taking naps in the afternoon, you could try reducing the time that they nap for or cutting out the nap altogether. This might mean that they are a little more tired or cranky for the first few afternoons that you make the transition, but it might lead to a sounder (and longer) night time sleep. If you have a small infant who isn't taking a nap, they simply might be too tired by the time bedtime comes around so you might need to look at whether they would benefit from a nap during the day time. With any adjustments that you decide to make, you need to give these trials a few weeks to see if they work.
Do you have any other tips to help early risers sleep a little bit longer?