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Why is sleep so much worse after 3am?

If you’re going to get a long stretch…

If your baby is at a stage where they are doing any longer stretches overnight, the likelihood is it will be in the first part of the night between 6-7pm and the early hours after the night. After that, it can be that your little one wakes much more frequently or you can’t get them to settle back into the cot after starting the night IN their cot.

Melatonin and Cortisol

In the evening is when your little one’s body will produce the hormone, Melatonin. This is nicknamed “the sleepy hormone” and will help your baby to fall asleep (along with sleep pressure that they will have built up from being awake during the afternoon). This gradually wears off throughout the night and they will have an increase in Cortisol as they approach morning. Cortisol gets a bit of a bad rep but this is the hormone that helps us to wake up in the morning.

In short

So from the early hours onwards, in simple terms sleep is getting lighter and lighter. And if your little one hasn’t fully learned how to settle themselves BACK to sleep this is when you are much more likely to get frequent wakes. So this is where teaching your little one to fall asleep independently comes in. We want for our little ones to be able to fall asleep by themselves at the start of the sleep, which a lot of the time will help them to start to be able to get themselves BACK to sleep between sleep cycles. Then we want to be able to help them learn to self-settle so that they are only waking when they are hungry and need a feed but are otherwise able to sleep long stretches, and if/when they are biologically ready – to sleep through the night.

We teach two methods for helping your little one learn to settle; controlled crying and controlled comforting. All of our sleep programmes will walk you through step-by-step how to do these methods depending on your baby’s age. Or if you would like us to walk you through step-by-step (and hold your hand whilst doing so) get in touch for a consultation.


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