False Starts Baby Sleep | Why Your Baby Won't Sleep (2021)

False Starts Baby Sleep | Why Your Baby Won't Sleep (2021)

A false start or a night time awakening is when you put your baby down to sleep for the night and they wake up shortly afterwards! Sleep problems in childhood and infancy are quite problem and can range in prevalence from 25-46%.


What Causes A False Start?

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Stress is regulated by two parts of the brain called the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. These two parts send signals in response to the environmental signals that cause the release of a stress hormone called cortisol. 

If cortisol is released at inappropriate times i.e. at night then this can keep babies and children up at night. If this occurs on a long term basis this can contribute to sleep problems and sleep disorders.

    Circadian Misalignment 

    Circadian misalignment is when your brain is operating on a different time than the rest of your body!

    There are several reasons why your brain and body are operating at different times. One major reason is light exposure. 


    "Why don't I feel tired at night after going on my phone?"


    Light exposure can cause circadian entrainment. Stay with me here, circadian entrainment is essentially your body trying to adapt to an unnatural change in your environment.

    If you or your baby are constantly exposed to blue light at night i.e. being on your phone before bed, over time your body adapt to be less tired.

    Circadian entrainment can be especially strong in 3-4 month old babies as they are still developing their normal internal clock. 

    Light exposure has been linked to several mental health disorders, sudden infant death syndrome and long-term health problems 

        Parental Overcontrol (Preschool Age) 

        Parental overcontrol represents two main behaviours that could create unnecessary stress

        1. Excessive comforting creates situations where children can avoid stress. Don’t get me wrong, too much stress is bad! It is important to find a balance between intervening and letting your children act independently. 

        2. Critical responses, rejection and negative labelling create a stressful environment.

        If you have an environment with both, this creates a perfect storm. Not only will your child be stressed, but they won’t have the internal mechanisms to be able to deal with this stress in a healthy way!

          Digestion Issues 

          Babies have sensitive stomachs!

          They are in the process of developing their digestive system, this can lead to acid reflux.

          This can create discomfort and manifest as restlessness, night time awakenings and crying.

          Digestion issues can also lead to colic symptoms. If you are interested in learning what colic is, how it impacts sleep and homeopathic solutions click here.


            Daylight Saving Time (DST)

            As we discussed earlier, light can have a large impact on your 3-4 month old baby. 


            "The American Academy Of Sleep Medicine wants to remove seasonal time changes"


            The seasonal time changes will be replaced with a year-round standard time. This decision is based on evidence that demonstrates that there can be serious health and public safety consequences from abnormal light exposure. 

            For all of our readers from Ontario, as of November 7 2021, legislation has been passed to end DST. The provinces in Canada that have ditched DST include: Yukon, Saskatchewan, parts of BC and Ontario. 

              What Is The Impact Of A False Start On Your Baby Or Preschool Child?

              A false start can lead to poor sleep quality and poor sleep quality has been linked to multiple physical and mental health disorders.

              The last thing you need in your stressful life is more stress. This stress can be alleviated without having to spend any extra money. 

                What Is The Impact Of A False Start On You?

                The issue is and always will be ensuring that your baby’s needs are met first before you can even think of yourself. 


                "A good night's sleep can solve a lot of problems".


                The tips below are meant to help your improve your baby and child’s health and empower you without breaking the bank. We don't want the lack of these tips success to make you feel like you are doing wrong so we will always be a big believer in doing what works for you!

                  4 Tips On How To Avoid False Starts

                  Create A Supportive Environment (Preschool Children) 

                  The environment and quality of parent-child relationships can have a huge impact on the quality of your child’s sleep.

                  Good quality father-child interactions, good quality maternal sensitivity and good quality maternal autonomy support all have significant impacts on sleep quality.

                  Maternal autonomy support is the behaviours and interactions that mothers use to encourage their children to think, feel and act independently to make their own decisions.

                    Position A Baby On Their Left Side During And After Feeding

                    Placing your baby on their left side after eating can improve their digestion.
                    This can be an effective way to help reduce acid reflux so you don’t have to turn to medications such as Tums. 

                    The reason the left side is preferred is because that’s where the stomach is located!

                      Time Naps Appropriately And Have A Bedtime Routine

                      If babies do not sleep enough during the day, their stress hormone levels will continue to rise which can lead to sleep deprivation. This creates a vicious cycle as sleep deprivation will only increase stress! 

                      Creating a good bedtime routine with sufficient playtime, fresh air and sunlight can allow a smooth transition into the night.

                      Incorporate dim light, darkness and relaxing activities such as reading bedtime stories, singing lullabies and a bath could promote the release of melatonin. This allows your baby to become more and more tired.

                      100% blackout curtains should be incorporated into your bedtime routine to prevent abnormal light exposure. 

                      What blackout curtains should I get for my nursery? Well, we wrote a post about all the features a blackout curtain should have!


                        Be Flexible

                        Putting babies and children to bed too early can make them restless. Ideally it’s best to put them to bed when they are drowsy!

                        This restlessness can contribute to insomnia especially if your baby/child has a genetic predisposition to this sleep disorder. It can be difficult to determine when your baby or child is tired but creating an ironclad schedule is not the solution!

                        There should be some flexibility in your schedule. For example, if your baby or child didn’t sleep well during their nap time, put them to bed earlier if possible.
                        Flexibility can also be easier if your baby or child has a good sleeping environment.

                        Your nursery or child’s room should be relatively cold, quiet and completely dark as all these conditions improve sleep quality. 

                          Now We Want To Hear From You!

                          Did the tips we provide help reduce the amount of night time awakenings experienced by your baby or child? Were there any tips that we missed?

                          Did any of the reasons behind false starts surprise you? If so, which reason surprised you the most?

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