Considering the fact that we all spend a third of our lives asleep, how we go about it is surprisingly different for every person.
However, there are certain “norms” that you can look at to see if you, and more importantly your little one, are sleeping as much as you should be, and what you can do to get to sleep easier and stay asleep for longer.
I often talk about sleep being a journey. Point A is awake, B is asleep. How you get yourself from A to B is really the hard part for a lot of people. Sometimes that journey feels effortless and sometimes that journey feels long and hard and it’s often because of how stressed you’re feeling, how much caffeine you’ve had.
Any anxiety that’s showing up around bedtime will definitely make this journey harder. But let’s talk today about normal. What does normal sleep look like? Well you might be surprised to know that the normal amount of time it takes the average person to fall asleep each night is anywhere from five to 20 minutes. So that’s a pretty big time difference and it can be a little bit alarming if it feels like it’s taking you too long. Anything less than five minutes, 99% of the time means that you’re sleep deprived, that you’ve been pushing yourself a little too hard and your body is just kinda shutting down the minute your head hits that pillow.
When we look at children we want to see the same time frame. Nothing less than five minutes. If your child’s falling asleep faster than that, you need to have a good look at their schedule. They are most likely either not napping enough during the day or going to bed too late and some over-tiredness and some sleep deprivation is setting in.
If it takes 20 minutes, great. We’re still well in the realm of normal, anywhere from five to 20. If it’s taking longer than 20 minutes, then there’s a few things you need to look at.
If your child has had a developmental milestone recently, that is most likely the reason why it’s taking them longer than 20 minutes. And that’s just simply because biologically they are programmed to keep practicing this milestone until they’ve reached a certain level of mastery.
So those are the days where you’ve had to go into that bedroom 50 times to put your little one back in a laying down position or roll them back onto their backs or whatever it is that they’re working on. And you’re thinking why do you keep doing this when clearly you’re not enjoying it that much. But that’s just biology. They’re just programmed to keep practicing it. So that could be why.
Another reason could be that you need to add some time awake to their schedule. So if your baby’s been going down really well, but now all of a sudden for the last week or so it’s taking longer than 20 minutes, my advice is to add 20 to 30 minutes of time to their time awake period. So if they normally were staying awake three hours between each nap and three hours between last nap and bedtime, try adding 20 more minutes all throughout your day so three hours and 20, three hours and 30 and see if that makes a difference.
Now don’t expect it to happen instantaneously. Just because you added 20 extra minutes this one time doesn’t necessarily mean that the body clock is gonna follow. Give it a couple of days of adding this extra time and see if your child starts falling asleep a little bit faster.
It could also just be a surge in language acquisition. If you’ve noticed your toddler has had a little explosion verbally, they’re babbling or putting sentences together, then that can also be the reason why it’s taking a little longer. They’re just so excited to keep practicing all these words that they’re learning that it’s a little bit harder for them to wind down and go to sleep.
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!