You’re visiting the Bath and Swindon branch of Little Dreams. Click here to view the main site.

Why do Split Nights happen?

Share This Post

Although spilt nights are rare I have now worked with quite a few families whose little ones were having spilt nights. It can be an un-settling phenomenon for parents and carers but why do split nights happen?

When I talk about split nights, I am describing a scenario whereby a child goes to bed, only to wake up for an extended period during the early hours before finally going back to sleep. During this time, the child may be wide awake and alert, or they might feel frustrated by their wakefulness. Regardless, both the child and the parent often remain awake until it’s nearly time to start the day.

I recall the first ever family I worked with who’s little one was having a regular split nights as I was actually upset for the family. I could not wait to start working with them and seeing the changes. Don’t get me wrong, it was not an easy job but with my knowledge around sleep and sleep needs I knew how to start tackling the issue in a gentle and sustainable way.  

What leads to these split nights?

Typically, split nights occur when a child’s daytime sleep isn’t properly regulated. If a child naps too much during the day or doesn’t have the right number of naps, it can disrupt their nighttime sleep. Conversely, insufficient daytime sleep can also contribute to this issue. This discrepancy stems from two primary reasons for our overnight sleep: our circadian rhythm, which aligns with natural light-dark cycles, and sleep pressure.

To help your child avoid these nighttime wake-ups, it’s essential to ensure they’re getting the appropriate amount of daytime sleep, the correct number of naps and a good bedtime routine. Here’s a general guideline:

This is a good guide:

0-3 months 16-18 hours per 24 hours

3-6 months 15 hours per 24 hours

6-12 months 14 hours per 24 hours

1-2 years 12-13 hours per 24 hours

3-5 years 10-13 hours per 24 hours

6-12 years 9-12 hours per 24 hours

0-3 months 4-5 naps per 24 hours          

4-5 months 3-4 naps per 24 hours

6-7 months 2-3 naps per 24 hours

7-12 months 2 naps per 24 hours

13 months-2.5 years 1 nap per 24 hours

Keep in mind that every child is different, so some may deviate from these averages. If you notice your child’s sleep schedule doesn’t align with their age group, they might need adjustments such as dropping a nap or having more awake time before naps and bedtime. Allow their body clock about a week to adapt to these changes.

Developmental milestones can also disrupt sleep patterns. If your child has recently learned to crawl, stand, or walk, their newfound abilities may cause nighttime disturbances. Similarly, illness can lead to disrupted sleep patterns, often resulting in excessive daytime sleep that affects nighttime rest.

If developmental changes seem to be the cause of split nights, encourage practice during the day and gently remind them to lie down if they wake up at night. Avoid relying on soothing methods like cuddling or feeding to help them fall back asleep, as this can create dependency. If illness is the culprit, wait until your child has recovered before adjusting their sleep routine to ensure they have sufficient sleep pressure for restful nights.

Is your little one waking in the night for no apparent reason for a substantial amount of time? If so  please get in touch. Book a free, no obligation call and we can talk about working together to get you a better night’s sleep.

You may also like

When to wake a sleeping baby

I felt compelled to explore it further in a blog post. So, let’s delve into the topic: Should you ever wake a sleeping baby? Despite the prevailing belief and the old saying, there are indeed instances where it’s advisable to gently rouse your little one! Here, I’ll share four situations where waking your sleeping bundle of joy might be beneficial:

Read More »