“Will I ever sleep again?” The all-too-common question practically every mama has repeated once or twice. That’s because the average mama loses around 109 minutes of sleep per night during the first year of their baby’s life. 😅
If this sounds like you right now, don’t give up. Teaching your little one to sleep through the night is more than possible. But first, what does “sleeping through the night” really mean? To some, it’s 5-8 hours, but to us, sleeping through the night is a full 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
If your little one isn’t sleeping through the night yet, or once was and is frequently waking, let’s try and figure out the why.
Here are 9 important factors that may be impacting your baby’s ability to sleep through the night:
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1. Having an overtired little one
Raise your hand 🤚 if you’ve heard this before, “If you tire your baby out, they’ll sleep like a charm.” Sound familiar?
Believe it or not, it’s a very common misconception that super tired babies will sleep better. In reality, having an overtired baby can lead to more whining, fussing, tossing, and turning, and they’ll even have an overall harder time staying asleep.
To prevent overtiredness, we recommend finding and sticking to a personalized sleep schedule. This helps you know exactly when your little one should be going down for naps and bedtime. Then, if they’ve had more activity than usual, you can put them to bed ahead of schedule rather than waiting until they’re exhausted and overtired which can lead to more nighttime wakings.
2. Baby is overstimulated
Much like being overtired, overstimulation is a very common reason babies have trouble sleeping through the night.
But what is overstimulation? Let’s paint a picture for you. Imagine you’ve been in an all-day face-to-face meeting. Chances are you’ve talked for hours, brainstormed, jotted down countless notes, and now you’re exhausted. Once the meeting’s over, you need time to step away, unwind, and process what has happened.
Your baby is no different. Your little one encounters new faces, sounds, toys, books, and scenery that can all lead to overstimulation. The easiest way to combat the impacts of overstimulation is a wind-down routine.
Our sleep experts recommend using a proven wind-down routine to help calm and relax your baby before naps and bedtime. This is especially important if you’re dealing with witching hours.
If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to a wind-down routine, let our Dream Lab sleep experts help build one that is proven to work for your baby.
3. Wake Windows
A wake window is a simple phrase we use to determine the amount of time your baby is awake in between naps.
Your wake window begins as soon as you pick Baby up from the crib and ends when you lay them back down for another nap.If you’re unsure if your little one is getting the right amount of awake time, we recommend you take a look at Baby’s wake windows (especially right before bedtime).
Here’s a list of average awake times that you can follow before bedtime based upon age:
- 4-12 weeks: 75 – 90 Minutes
- 3-4 Months: 90 – 120 Minutes
- 5-6 Months: 2.5 – 3 Hours
- 7-12 Months: 3 – 4 Hours
- 12-24 Months: 4 – 5 Hours
4. Falling Asleep Independently
Your baby’s ability to fall asleep independently is a huge step to stopping night wakings. Here’s an easy scenario that will help you understand.
Every human, regardless of their age, wakes up multiple times during the night due to sleep cycles. When this happens, we tend to look around, check our surroundings, and then fall back asleep. If you found yourself in a different spot than where you had initially fallen asleep, would you be confused or would you immediately fall back asleep?
If your little one is rocked to sleep in your arms and then placed in the crib, your baby will likely be startled when they wake up and they’re not in your arms. To fall asleep again, your baby will likely need to fall asleep in your arms every time they wake up throughout the night.
This is why teaching your little one to fall asleep independently is so important. That’s why we developed Dream Lab, a proven sleep learning course that helps both you and Baby sleep through the night in as little as 7 days.
We don’t know about you, but when it’s time for bed, those comfy pajamas are always calling our name. The same should go for your baby!
Comfort is an important piece of the puzzle. When it’s time for bed, your little one should feel secure and comfortable. This goes for both clothing and room temperature. Remember, the temperature in your little one’s room should be between 68º-72º.
If you’re unsure how to gauge their comfort level, just use your best judgment. Are you comfy in certain clothes? Then consider dressing Baby in similar clothing material. Are you too warm or too cold? Assess the baby and then make any necessary adjustments.
6. Don’t Rush In
This may be a tough one, but you mustn’t rush in the room the first time you hear any whining or fussing. Remember, babies have very active sleep cycles which means they will whine, fuss, fight their swaddle, or even cry a little.
When this happens, WAIT. Wait it out for 45-60 seconds, or maybe even 3-5 minutes (if they’re a little older) to see if the fussing stops. If you rush in too quickly, you can wake your little one during their active sleep cycle. Doing this will not allow them to self-soothe and learn to fall back asleep independently.
Some think the “quick fix” to getting your little one to fall back asleep as quickly as possible is night feeding. At first, a bottle or breastfeeding seems to be a solution that works, but over time, more feedings can lead to a baby that isn’t as hungry during the daytime.
When this happens, we call it “reverse cycling”. This happens when your little one simply snacks during the day and then wants the majority of their caloric needs during the middle of the night. Not only does this lead to more night wakings, but it leads to less sleep for mama.
The fix to ending reverse cycling is to help your baby get most, if not all, caloric needs during the daytime. Of course, this is no easy task, but it’s one of the many helpful tricks that are taught in our Dream Lab course.
8. Sleep Environment
Creating a safe and comfortable sleep environment is essential to promote quality sleep.
We touched on this above, but remember to aim to have Baby’s room temperature be between 68º-72º.
A dark room will change the game for a baby’s sleep. Darkness signals to a baby that it’s time for rest. This is critical for your baby’s overall sleep quality.
So how dark should their room be? Our sleep experts recommend the room be as dark as possible. If this is difficult because of a window, maybe even consider investing in blackout curtains or shades.
Even though it can be difficult to control the noises outside your little one’s room, you can control the noise inside the room.
To regulate the sound inside of your little one’s room, our experts recommend investing in a white noise machine. To keep the noise level safe, keep it between 50-60 dB.
Remember, great things come with time. On the one hand, a consistent approach to bedtime routines and night wakings will help build a healthy foundation for your little one. On the other hand, an inconsistent approach can lead to more night wakings and even less sleep for mama.
If you and your baby are struggling to get good sleep consistently, we’d highly recommend exploring Dream Lab by Owlet, our proven sleep training program. We teamed up with world-class pediatric sleep consultants to create a fully online and personalized step-by-step sleep training course.
Once you sign-up for Dream Lab, you’ll receive:
- An in-depth sleep assessment
- A personalized sleep schedule & auto-adjusting daily guide
- Live support from sleep experts
- Educational videos & tutorials
It’s so effective, we guarantee results in as few as 7 days or your money back. Use code: SLEEP50 at checkout for $50 off, offer ends 01/31/2021.