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The early riser – How to cope and get your later mornings back!

Feeling shattered and like a zombie due to your early 5am riser? It’s no wonder you feel so rough! Between 5 and 6am in the morning it’s technically still night-time, so being woken at this time can make you feel zombie-like because you’ve likely been woken from your deep sleep state. Imagine how you would feel with an extra hour or two in the morning instead of your 5am start! Like a totally new person I bet! 

My happy sleep tips for early risers won’t exactly give you a ‘lie-in’ as such, but moving from 5 to 6am, is going to feel a whole lot better than the middle of the night slump right? 

As a parent myself – I know how hard it is getting by on very little sleep. Add to that an incredibly early start and you find your cosy Netflix evenings are soon replaced with ridiculously early nights in bed playing catch up. Sleep is all you can think about right?

Here are my top tips for getting that much needed good sleep back! 

When should my child be sleeping until 6am? 

Every child is different, but generally, by the time your little one is 6 months old, it’s pretty reasonable to expect sleeping to last until at least 6am, if not 7am. Of course this depends greatly on a variety of things – one very important problem being clock changes. You can read all about that here. 

Routine is the magic key

As crazy as it sounds – one of the biggest causes of sleep problems is in fact over tiredness! When your little one is overtired and doesn’t sleep enough the brain releases the hormone cortisol. This can stimulate your little one into feeling more awake and alert.

With this in mind it’s important to look at the daily routine. Is your little one getting enough daily naps? Naps are hugely important for young ones up to the age of 3 – so if you’ve recently cut an a nap – it may be worth bringing it back to see if that makes a difference. nine times out of ten – this fixes the problem. If you cut nap times because your little one refused them bare in mind they usually refuse for a fear of missing out on something and not because they don’t need them. Keep the ‘quiet time’ as part of the routine and instead of suggesting it’s time to sleep – let them look at books on their bed or watch a movie cuddled up together. More often than not – you’ll find them drifting off.

The perfect bedtime routine

What time are you putting your child to bed? Anything later than 7pm can result in over tiredness too – especially in older children (3+) who no longer have naps in the day.

Many parents think that keeping their little ones up late will make them sleep later – but this isn’t the case – it has the opposite effect. A good bedtime is anything from 630-7pm – so go by your own little one and look for the tired signs. Rubbing eye, starting to get a little cranky or twirling their hair/sucking their thumb. Act on those signs right away rather than waiting until they fall asleep downstairs. 

The perfect bedtime routine is best started at least half an hour before they are getting into bed. Stop the days activities – go upstairs and start bath time and wind down time. Have a story and some milk and then teeth cleaned and into bed for another story. 

Ensure they are comfortable and feel reassured – then after the story try my ‘One rubbish, Three Awesomes’ technique (older children) then leave the room. For those with night fears or worries invest in a night light and offer lots of reassurance. for tips on night fears you can read here. Don’t be tempted to go back downstairs and watch TV. Screens stimulate little ones and ideally shouldn’t be watched half an hour before bedtime. 

By sticking to the routine – you’ll notice a change in only a few days.

Consistency is key

Start as you mean to go on. If you are ready to start sleep training – you have to be consistent. This means everyone in the house following the same page. If your little one stays over at grandparents – let them know the routine too.

If your little one keeps coming in to your room early – walk them back to their room quietly and calmly without conversation. (It’s not mean – it’s because any chat will stimulate and wake them from their early morning fogginess and it’s unlikely you’ll get them settled again.)

Walk them back to their room, simply say ‘it’s sleepy time’ and leave the room. Keep repeating this – as exhausting as it may be, it’ll only take a few days to work. Don’t be tempted to let them into your bed and snuggle – that’ll just become a new habit that’s hard to break. (Of course if you want to do that – you can! There’s nothing nicer than a morning snuggle with a little one, but I expect you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t mind that every day!) 

Invest in a bedtime clock

At 6 and 7 years old my two little ones still use a bedtime clock and have used it since they were 2 years old! Our Gro-clock is pretty cool and one of the best investments we made! The clock shows them with a sunshine face what time it is OK to come into our rooms. Now that they are older we set it to 8am on a weekend (a lie-in whoop whoop!) On school mornings we need to be up early so it’s 6.30am, but we actually have to wake them as they sleep through it turning to the sunshine face! 

You set these clocks yourself – so be realistic. If your little one is waking at 5am – start with 5.30am and move it ten minutes every other day until you get to 6am. After a week of 6am, start moving it ten minutes every other day again until you get to 7am or whatever time you want. Remember – most young children wake around 6.30am so don’t expect a 10am lie-in! 

Remind and reward 

If your little one manages to adjust and stick to the new routine – remind them how well they are doing and reward them with lots of praise. 

Older children can work towards a target – maybe a trip to the cinema or park for ‘5 good sleeps in a row.’ Make them feel like they are special and have achieved something great – because actually, they really have! As a parent you’ll know the gift of sleep is priceless! 


By following my gentle and happy sleep tips – you’ll find yourself soon sleeping later than 5am and everyone will be feeling so much brighter and happier! 

More tips like this are available in my bestselling book here.