Trying to figure out when your kid is actually tired can be tough.
Lots of parents will say, “Tired? My kid is never tired, he’s always bouncing off the walls!” If you feel this way, too, you're definitely not alone! Today I’m going to reveal the top three tired signs in kids that often go unnoticed. They can be subtle and sneaky, so let me help you become a toddler sleep detective and make sure your little one gets the rest they need!
>>Watch this blog on my Awesome Little Sleepers YouTube channel! 👇
Your tired kid might actually get hyper at night
This one can feel a little counterintuitive. But anywhere between 6 and 9 pm, have you noticed your child seems to get a burst of energy? Seeing them in this excitable state might lead you to believe they’re nowhere near ready for bed. But the reality is that hyperactivity in the late evening is actually a sign of overtiredness.
When kids become overly tired, their bodies release a stress hormone called cortisol that provides this extra burst of energy that gives them a second wind.
If your child is frequently bouncing off the walls in the evening, it means they actually need an earlier bedtime so they can get more sleep. The trick here is to watch the clock to see when they get more energized. Then, aim to put them down for bed 15 minutes BEFORE this time the next night.
You want to get them to bed before the cortisol hits.
Let’s say it’s 7:45 pm and things seem to be winding down, so you get going with the bedtime routine. All of a sudden, your kid becomes a chatterbox, chases the dog in circles, and tries to wrestle you… this means your bedtime is too late.
You should actually be aiming for a 15 minute earlier lights-out time. If hyperactivity started around 7:45 pm, that means the bedtime routine should be done with lights out by 7:30 pm.
Your tired kid might become disinterested or unusually quiet
If they're not playing with their favorite toys, not responding to you, or seem lost in their thoughts, that can be a sign of sleepiness.
I had a family tell me once that their kid was normally super talkative, and they figured out that his main tired sign was being quiet! Once he got quiet, they beelined it for the bedtime routine. My own daughter used to zone out and start twirling her hair. That was how I knew it was bedtime.
These tired signs can hit fast, and that’s one of the main reasons why I teach a streamlined, cozy 15 minute bedtime routine inside my sleep course, Sleep Tight Without a Fight. Once your child shows you they’re tired, you want to get them down quickly. It’s easier for them to fall asleep when their body is ready.
Your tired kid might develop lazy body posture
Your toddler might lay down to watch TV, lean against the wall when talking to you, or hold their head in their hands at the dinner table. This physical indication of tiredness is easy to miss, but it's your child's way of showing you they need rest. You may even see this before you notice the jolt of energy - the first sign we covered!
If you’re seeing this lazy posture, it’s time to start zipping through that quick bedtime routine.
By recognizing these often unnoticed tired signs, you'll help your toddler get the healthy sleep they need. Remember, your goal is having them sleep for 10-12 hours straight through the night. This is going to give you a very happy, well-rested child!
If you want to learn more about my REST Method designed for big kids, join me for my next toddler sleep masterclass. Here’s the link for you to save your spot.