Kids are amazingly resilient.
And it seems that the
time they are at their most resilient is bedtime!
It feels like kids learn
delaying tactics from a very young age and are not afraid to use these tactics
when it is time to go to sleep.
procrastination can open the door for the dreaded second wind, making it
virtually impossible to get your little one to sleep.
So, what causes the
second wind and how can you stop it from impacting your child’s sleep routine?
Let’s answer those
Cortisol is a hormone
that your body releases, usually in response to stress. It is designed to
activate the body’s fight-or-flight response. Therefore, cortisol can increase
alertness, raise blood sugar levels, and provide the body with plenty of energy
to deal with the stressor.
When a child is
overtired, their body may produce higher levels of cortisol. As you can
imagine, with all that energy pumping through their veins, it can lead to
Cortisol levels naturally
fluctuate throughout the day. Usually, the levels are higher in the morning and
lower at night. However, when cortisol levels remain elevated at night due to
overtiredness, it can interfere with a child's ability to fall asleep and stay
This causes the dreaded
second wind where it feels like they turn into a little energizer bunny who may
never sleep again!
Overtiredness can be just
as hard to deal with as under tiredness at bedtime. As we just learnt, cortisol
can have a negative effect on your little one’s ability to fall asleep.
Unfortunately, it can also tamper with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, so
even if they manage to fall asleep after a second wind, they may struggle to
stay asleep throughout the usual sleep cycle.
So, as you can see,
keeping your baby or toddler up later than recommended can have dire
consequences. Here are my best suggestions to avoid overtiredness (and the
second wind) from occurring:
Take The Lead
Babies and toddlers find
it hard to read their own sleep cues. They don’t necessarily feel the sleep
pressure that we do as adults. This is especially true when their brains are
firing from learning or practising new skills. This intense focus can distract
them from connecting with sleep.
So, it is up to you to
take the lead and read the sleep cues for them. That way, you can catch them
during the window of being sleepy, but not yet overtired.
Don’t Wait Too Long
If you wait for your
child to start showing tired signs before getting them ready to sleep, then you
might accidentally miss your window. Some children don’t show tired signs at
all or some show them when it’s already too late.
If you wait too long,
then your baby or toddler could enter the overtired state without you realising
it. This will make it incredibly hard to settle them. So, it’s much better to
focus on set nap times and awake windows than trying to judge tiredness on a
Checkout our hugely popular age specific nap guides for additional insight and tips into getting the right amount of awake time and day sleep for your child.
Stick To The Routine
If your little one is
having fun, then it can be tempting to let them stay up a bit longer. But, it
is important to remember that sleep is just as important for their development
as learning and playing.
While you can skip the
odd day here and there for special occasions, as a rule, you should try and
stick to your sleep routine as closely as possible. Even if your child doesn’t
look particularly tired, still head to bed at their usual nap or sleep time.
Early Is Better Than Late
Heading up to bed early
can have a positive impact on bedtime stalling tactics. Remember that your
little ones don’t understand the concept of time yet, they will rely on you to
tell them when it is time for bed. Going early leaves a buffer in case delaying
tactics are employed. And even if they are employed, you’ll still have the
opportunity to be asleep at the right time.
Whereas, if your child
ends up going to bed later, you might find that they wake more during the night
due to cortisol spikes. Overall, being early to bed creates more restorative
sleep and reduces the risk of early rising.
If your child is
regularly overtired when trying to sleep, then you may have fallen into the
second wind cycle. It can be really easy to do.
If you feel like your
little one is in this space or you simply need some advice, book a FREE no obligation call today to discuss how I can best support you on your journey to better sleep.