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How can I stop 'split nights'?

If you’ve never heard the phrase ‘split nights’, it essentially refers to a child waking in the night for many hours at a time before returning to sleep.

Children who are experiencing split nights are often happy, alert and seem like they’ve had a full night of sleep and could get up for the day.

If you’re experiencing this, hang in there, I hope this blog can help you out.

Split nights generally happen when a child's circadian rhythm and sleep pressure is slightly out of sync which can be caused by the following:

  • Too much day sleep for your little one’s age: This can make them too energetic to need a full night’s sleep.

  • Bedtime routine is too stimulating: Try to introduce a simple, calm bedtime routine that produces melatonin and is void of blue light 60 minutes before sleep time.

  • Not enough day sleep: When babies get overtired, cortisol rises in their system which can make it hard for them to sleep all night. Adapting your nap routine can be a game changer when it comes to night waking.

  • Milestones: Learning a new skill can be a cause of night wakes. This includes rolling, crawling, walking and speech developments. This one will pass on it's own when they've mastered the skill. Give them lots of opportunities to practise during the day.

  • Bedtime is too early: When babies don’t nap well, sometimes we put them down early, this can mean they feel fully rested before the night is over. If babies don’t nap well, moving bedtime a little earlier can be great but try not to move it by more than 30 minutes.

  • Time to drop a nap: I know we love a good nap time (myself included), but depending on your little one’s age, it may be time to drop a nap or begin to gradually cut one down. Between 7-8 months you will want to consider dropping to two naps, between 15-18 months, you will want to consider just having one nap a day and between 2.5-3.5 years old, it may be time to take all naps out. Begin cutting them by 10-15 minutes and seeing if it makes a difference.

  • Settling: If you cuddle your baby to sleep and they don’t wake in the night, this is totally fine, however, if you’re experiencing split-nights, it may be time to look at teaching them to fall asleep independently so they are able to resettle themselves between sleep cycles.

  • Parents rushing in: If you rush in as soon as your little one cries at night, you may actually stimulate them. Research shows it can take between 5-10 minutes for them to resettle themselves between cycles. Try to take a magic moment to evaluate what your little one needs, if they’re happy, leave them to it. If they’re grizzling but it’s fading out, see how they get on. Of course if they’re very upset, they may need a little comfort from you but try not to take them out of their cot or bedroom.

If split nights are causing you issues, then I have many options to help you out. I have online courses for newborns, babies and toddlers. I can also work with you 1:1 which means I'll be on the other end of WhatsApp/email to support you along the way.

Follow my Instagram page @Lullaby.Lauryn for plenty of free tips, Q&As and advice.

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