Why is it that sometimes bedtime is easy and sometimes it’s just a struggle? Maybe you missed the right moment to put your child down? It’s important to understand sleep windows, or windows of opportunity to put your child to sleep.
We all have an internal clock, known as the Circadian Rhythm. This clock works off of our environment, light and dark cues as well as genetics. There are times of day our bodies are most awake and times of day we are most prime to go to sleep. For young children, these times of sleepiness will also peak at different times throughout the day, because they need daytime sleep as well as night sleep.
If you’ve had a baby you’ve seen that newborns and young babies can only stay awake for short periods of time, and then they get sleepy again. These times are termed “windows of wakefulness” and indicate the time during which a child should be awake. Here’s a sample of these windows at different ages:
A 3-month-old can only stay awake between sleep times for 1.5-3 hours.
For a 6-month-old the window of wakefulness is 2-3 hours.
For a 9-month-old the window of wakefulness is 2-4 hours.
For a 12-month-old the window of wakefulness is 3-4 hours.
For an 18-month-old the window of wakefulness is 4-6 hours.
For a 2-year-old the window of wakefulness is 5-6.5 hours.
For a 3-year-old the window of wakefulness is 6-8 hours. Some kids this age are no longer napping.
For a 4-year-old the window of wakefulness is 6-12 hours. Many kids this age are no longer napping.
For a 5-year-old the window of wakefulness is 6-12 hours. Most kids this age are no longer napping.