Unravelling the Mystery of Early Morning Wake Ups

by | Jan 18, 2024 | Baby Sleep, Motherhood, Sleep Deprivation, Toddler Sleep

Have you found yourself bleary-eyed and exhausted as your baby decides it’s time to start the day at an ungodly hour? Welcome to the world of Early Morning Wake Ups (EMWU), where the quest for a restful night’s sleep can sometimes feel like an elusive dream. In this blog, we’ll explore what EMWUs are, why they happen, and most importantly, how you can conquer them for a more peaceful night for both you and your little one.

Understanding Early Morning Wake Ups (EMWU)


An Early Morning Wake Up (EMWU) is when your baby wakes anywhere between 4am and 6.30 – 7am and they are classed as part of the night sleep cycle. There are various contributing factors that can result in an EMWU including force of habit, bedroom environment, lack of protein the previous day, overtiredness, lack of nap routine or a late bedtime.

Often parents assume that if they put their baby to sleep later they will wake later. This has the opposite effect because your baby becomes overtired and that results in an EMWU.

EMWU’s can be hard to fix. Often at this time your baby has had long stretch of sleep and parents are exhausted. Often parents bring their baby into bed around this time because it’s hard resettling them. BUT how amazing would it be when you baby wakes at 6.30am/7am?! Some parents will tell you their child has always woken up at 5am since they were 3 months old and that it’s normal. It is not normal. EMWU’s can absolutely be fixed in the majority of cases!

Contributing Factors of EMWU

Various factors contribute to the occurrence of EMWUs, such as habits, the bedroom environment, protein intake, overtiredness, lack of a nap routine, or a late bedtime. Recognizing these influencers is crucial to addressing and resolving early waking challenges.

Fixing Early Morning Wake Ups

Eliminating Zeitgebers: External Cues Reinforcing EMWUs

To conquer EMWUs, we must eliminate Zeitgebers—external cues such as food, light, and social interaction. These cues synchronize your baby’s biological rhythm to a potentially undesirable waking time. Discover how breaking these habits can pave the way for a more consistent sleep schedule.

Zeitgeber’s synchronise an organism’s biological rhythm to the earth’s 24 hour dark/light cycle. Training your body to be ready, fresh and up for the day at 5.30am! This is not what we want. So these external cues reinforce the EMWUs if continued. A later bedtime is not a solution for an EMWU. It is a cause of it. Overtiredness will cause your baby to wake early.

Sometimes gentle sleep training methods don’t work for EMWUs because the interaction is too much, takes too long and requires a lot of patience and energy!

Optimizing the Sleep Environment

Check baby doesn’t have cold feet, isn’t too hot, no external noises, no morning light coming in.

Protein Intake for Better Sleep

Encourage 50 grams of protein per day between 6 to 10 months at lunchtime. From 10 months old another 50 grams at dinner time.

Nap Optimization Strategies

After 6 months old morning nap should not be napping before 8.30am, preferably more 9/9.30am. This is to avoid your little one thinking their morning nap is a continuation of their night time sleep which can enforce EMWUs.  You want to cap the morning nap to 30 to 45 mins from 6 months on to help consolidate the lunchtime nap, allowing baby to be well rested up to bedtime and getting a good night sleep.


Age-Appropriate Night Feeds and Transitions

Make sure your baby is on age appropriate night feeds and is dropping them at the correct age. Give yourself 3 weeks of consistently addressing EMWUs to solve them.

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Consistency is the Key to Resolving EMWUs

Delve into the significance of consistency in addressing and resolving EMWUs. Learn how setting realistic expectations and allowing time for the process can lead to lasting improvements.

Armed with knowledge and practical tools, empower yourself as a parent to navigate the complexities of sleep training. Give yourself three weeks of consistent effort to address and solve EMWUs for a more restful night’s sleep.

Baby products for healthy sleep habits

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