Split nights can be so frustrating and exhausting for everyone! What is a split night? This is when your little one wakes in the middle of the night ready to party! They may be wide awake and ready to play with no going back to sleep in sight. You may have a one-off split night every now and then, but this pattern is mainly identified when it happens several consecutive nights in a row. Having a little one wide awake for hours in the middle of the night is definitely not ideal. Let’s look at a few potential causes.
Split nights are usually caused by an imbalance with daytime sleep. This may mean too much daytime sleep, or too early of a bedtime. If your little one is taking 2 or 3 several hours long naps a day, this may chip away at nighttime sleep. After all, we each have a set number of hours of sleep we ideally need in a day, and won’t easily go much over that. This is similar to if you take a really long afternoon nap, you may find it hard to fall asleep at night, or wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep. You may need to cap a nap or two, or see if baby is ready for a nap transition. A too early bedtime can also cause issues. If your little one is going to bed too early, they may be waking after 8 or 9 hours of sleep pretty refreshed and ready to go! Unfortunately, this may be at 2 or 3 in the morning! This early bedtime may also mean they didn’t have time to build up enough sleep pressure for nighttime sleep.
So what can you do about this? In order for split nights to end, night sleep needs to condense before it can extend again. You can start by shifting bedtime 15 minutes later every couple of nights for a little bit. If you try this for a week or so and the split nights still don’t end, you may even need to move your wake time in the morning up by 15 minutes at a time. You may need to add in an extra cat nap, or extend the wake time between the first two naps to achieve this later bedtime. We want to protect the wake time before bed as much as possible, to avoid baby becoming super overtired and fussy right before bed.
Split nights may take a week or more to resolve after bedtime is moved later. After the split nights are resolved, then you can work to slowly move bedtime back to an ideal time by about 10 or 15 minutes every few nights.
If you’re still struggling after implementing these changes, or just don’t know where to start, I can help! Split nights are something we can work on with a 1:1 consultation. This allows me to see your individual situation and the best strategy for your little one. Plus I can guide you through the process! Split nights are never fun, but we can work through it together.