One thing I’ve heard multiple times in my career as a sleep consultant is that baby is a “light sleeper,” who wakes up at the slightest sound during naps or bedtime.
There’s definitely some truth to the idea that some babies wake up easier than others, but it has more to do with their ability to get back to sleep on their own than it does with their biology.
Today, I’ll explain why some little ones seem to be so easily woken up, and what you can do to improve their ability to sleep through the environmental noises that might be disturbing their naps.
I get a lot of questions from people about light sleepers. How can I help my baby become a deeper sleeper? Or my child is such a light sleeper, she wakes up over anything. Well, there’s some truth to this and there is not some truth to this. We all cycle through sleep cycles and some parts of the cycle are really light and some parts of that cycle are really deep and it just depends where your child is in their sleep cycle when a noise arrives.
I can remember one time the fire alarm was going off in our apartment complex, like, just so loud. There seems to be no way anyone could sleep through the sound of that, yet when we went in to get our son, he was fast asleep, didn’t hear it at all. So that tells me that he’s in the deepest part of his sleep cycle and those kind of noises aren’t going to reach him very easily.
Now if the same alarm had gone off when he was in a lighter phase, then yeah, it absolutely would.
So, that’s the science behind it, but what is happening in your particular scenario is most likely caused by a sleep prop.
So if you’re doing all of the work to get your child to sleep in the first place and then a siren goes by and she wakes up, she’s gonna cry for you because she doesn’t really understand, how do I get myself back to sleep? I mean when an ambulance drives by in the middle of our night, we might wake up, acknowledge it’s an ambulance and then return to sleep.
If she wakes up and hears a funny noise, now she’s wide awake and wondering, hmm, now what do I do? How do I get back to sleep without those things that got me to sleep in the first place? So that’s why she’s gonna cry. If she had her own skills, she would most likely hear the sound and then return to sleep, just like you do.
So if you feel like, you know, a pin dropping in the hallway wakes up your child, then what you have is a sleep prop problem, not really a problem with your child being a light sleeper. So the first step is to pick up a copy of The Sleep Sense Program or figure out a way to teach your child to fall asleep independently so that if noise does occur, she can handle the situation herself. Acknowledge the noise, go back to sleep.
She won’t be able to do that, though, unless she figures out what those strategies are for getting to sleep in the first place. And then as far as noise level goes, I always tell people to be mindful that somebody is sleeping. It’s the same as if your partner were having a nap in the middle of the afternoon, you’re not gonna play music really loud, start vacuuming right outside the door. You’re being polite, you’re being considerate because somebody else is sleeping.
You do not need to tiptoe around, you don’t need to watch TV with your headphones on, you can go about your normal business, just keeping in mind that, depending on where she is in her cycle, if you drop a tray of plates on the floor, you might wake her up.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!