- Jessica Berk
Help! My toddler is waking up in the middle of the night?
We’ve been discussing why your toddler is waking up overnight. Whether you have a 3 year old waking up at night or a 2 year old waking up at night crying, there are 3 main causes - night terrors, nightmares and poor sleep habits.
We’ve discussed the first two already and now you know that night terrors and nightmares are both rare and infrequent. So, while they may happen occasionally, they’re NOT causing your child to wake up every. single. night. And certainly not causing them to wake up multiple times a night.
So, why is your toddler waking up in the middle of the night?
The main reason why most toddlers can’t sleep through the night is because they just don’t have good sleep habits. Maybe they used to sleep well when they were younger or maybe they have never been a good sleeper. Either way, if your toddler is waking up overnight most nights of the week, they need better sleep habits. The good news is that you can help fix this!
Listen up, I’m going to tell you the key to awesome sleep. It may not be easy, but it’s pretty darn simple….
When kids can fall asleep alone, they can stay asleep alone.
Kids get used to what they have when they fall asleep - what they have in their bed, what they have in their room, what lights are on, what noises they hear, what’s happening around them. All of these things set up the sleep conditions that they need in order to fall asleep.
Once asleep, we all go through changes in our sleep cycles throughout the night. Deep sleep to light sleep and back and forth multiple times. When we move into a lighter stage of sleep, if all the conditions in the room are the same, we just roll over and stay asleep.
BUT, if something is missing or something is different… when we move into light sleep, our body will notice and we will wake up because something is WEIRD or missing or different. And that’s when your child wakes up.
Let me give you an easy example to demonstrate what I'm talking about... If you fall asleep in your bed and no one wakes you up, you’ll probably sleep pretty well. But, if you fall asleep and, at some point in the night, your pillow falls on the floor, the next time you move into a lighter stage of sleep, you'll certainly wake up because your pillow is gone. Your pillow is a KEY piece of your sleep environment. And it's missing! So you have to wake up, realize what’s wrong, find your pillow, pick it up and then try and fall back to sleep.
Bringing it back to your toddler... If your child is used to you staying in their room while they fall asleep, you are like their pillow! Whether you’re laying in their bed, scratching their back, sitting in a chair, snuggling them, etc. that’s what they’re used to. You have made yourself an integral part of their sleep environment. Like a pillow! Even though they are 100% capable of sleeping without you, you have become a necessity to them.
And when you sneak out, army crawling out of their room praying the door doesn't squeak, they will wake up hours later to come find you. You think "Darn, she was sound asleep! Why does she keep waking up?!?" Now you know. It's because she moved into a lighter stage of sleep and you were GONE! This crucial piece of her sleep environment is missing - YOU! And now she has to go find it. Cue the screaming 3 year old at 2am or the cranky 4 year old jolting you out of a deep sleep with a tap to the forehead.
But what if you don’t stay in your child’s room while they fall asleep but they STILL wake up at night?
Another thing kids get used to unfortunately is bedtime battles. Bedtime battles can actually cause overnight wake ups. If your child is running out of their room at bedtime or yelling for you, and you’re responding to multiple requests, returning them to their room, negotiating with them or yelling, you’re dealing with toddler bedtime battles. If this back and forth goes on for the next 5 to 45 minutes, that’s actually a bedtime condition kids can get used to. So, you’re likely to see your toddler repeating that same behavior in the middle of the night. When they get used to arguing and fighting with you at bedtime, it can become a very strong habit that extends to overnight wake ups too.
So, if your toddler is waking up overnight, use these 3 blog posts to figure out what is causing the wake ups. Night terrors? Nightmare? Poor Sleep Habits?
If you suspect that it’s poor sleep habits, join my next free Toddler Sleep Masterclass where you’ll learn the Proven Method to Get Your Toddler to Go to Sleep Alone. Because now you see how important it is to get your child comfortable falling asleep alone - so they can sleep through the night. And you can actually fix this! When they fall asleep alone in a quiet, dim room, they will start sleeping blissfully through the night 10-12 hours straight - no wake ups. Save your spot in the next Masterclass. > >Click Here< <