When people talk about ‘split nights', they are referring to their child waking in the night and taking several hours to go back to sleep. They will often seem quite happy and alert and, no matter what you to do, they won’t settle back to sleep.
So what causes these and what can you do?
Here are a few things to consider:
1- Daytime routine- too much daytime sleep. If your little one is having more daytime sleep than they need, it can result in them being more awake at night. They then compensate by having longer naps in the day, and the cycle continues! This does not apply to young babies who’ll need lots of daytime sleep.
2- Going to bed too early. Maybe your little one seemed really fussy or didn’t nap well during the day so you put them to bed early- but this can mean they when they do wake in the night, they wake feeling rested and ready for their day! This can the get worse if bedtime gets earlier and earlier each night.
3- Learning a new skill. All babies go through developmental changes and they often just want to practice these at night! Have patience and this phase will pass. Factor is lots of time during the day for them to practice these new skills.
4- Potential nap transition. It’s common that split nights can show when your baby is getting ready to drop one of their naps. Their daytime sleep requirement has reduced but they daytime routine hasn’t quite caught up.
5- They haven’t learnt self-settling skills yet. While some babies can be helped to sleep and have a settled sleep, many others will wake up and look for what it was that got them to sleep i.e rocking, feeding, patting etc. Once they’ve slept for a few hours, they then find it harder to get to sleep than they did at the beginning of the night (as melatonin has dropped and cortisol is kicking in). Practicing independent sleep skills can help with these split nights.
6- Intervening too soon. If your little on is playing happily, babbling or crawling around, it’s fine to leave them to it. Sometimes if you rush in too quickly and they aren’t asking for you, they think it’s playtime. Giving them the space to get themselves back to sleep is a good place to start in reducing the length of time they’re awake for. Of course, if they become upset then go in and comfort them, but don’t resort to taking them out of their bedroom, playing with them or putting on TV as this can perpetuate the wake up.
If you want any further help with split nights, you can book a free call with me to find out more about how I can help.