A child (3 years 10 months) wakes every morning at 5am.

When he is with me he has a midday nap which can last 3 hours. He is clearly tired when he wants to nap, and if he wakes too early from his nap he will return to sleep - sometimes being quite distressed that he woke early.

He goes to nursery 4 days a week and I assume they let him nap there.

He will start school soon (England: we start formal school very young) and I'm not sure if they'll have napping there.

My question: would removing his midday nap improve his early waking? Or would it just create an over-tired little boy?

3 Answers 3


I think a three hour nap (while probably wonderful for the parent) is a long period for a child his age to nap. I would start reducing his nap time by a few minutes every day, waking him with an activity he enjoys during quiet times until he's mostly fully awake, and switch over to something more exciting. He will probably go to bed sooner at night and sleep a bit longer. If my child awoke at 5 am, I would not allow that schedule to dictate the family's (I'm a tyrant). I would put a comfy pad and comforter on the floor of my bedroom (assuming your not opposed to a partial family bedroom) and ask him to camp out there, where he might actually fall asleep again. Make sure doors are shut with some sound (bells? Something newer?) to awake you if he tries to wander out of the room.

I wouldn't cut out his nap altogether unless the school he is to attend has no quiet time for the children (hard to imagine).


Some kids respond well to adjustments in their sleep schedule, some don't. That is probably due to levels of certain hormones (Melatonin, Seratonin, etc.), but in any event it's basically inherent to the child. My first has a hard time with adjustments; my second has a fairly easy time. Same basic techniques used with both. I wouldn't assume a change in nap will have a direct impact on sleeping; my oldest sleeps the same whether he naps for 2-3 hours or not at all, as long as the nap isn't right before bedtime.

When does your child go to sleep at night? He may be a 'Ben Franklin' kid ('Early to bed/Early to rise/Makes a man healthy/Wealthy and wise', famously misattributed to Ben). My eldest is the opposite - goes to bed around 10, would like to wake at 8 if he had a say in it. If you can work things out with your schedule such that waking at 5am isn't a big deal, I would try to do that. Odds are it will push back some as he gets older, but some people are just wired to get up early.


My Son (also 3 years and 10 months) started getting out of bed and going to sleep around 22:00. In the proccess he often waked his younger brother (1 year 6 months). In the morning he sleeps to around 6:45

To solve this we reduced his nap to max 1 hour, and wake him up then. This is not ideal around dinner time he is very tired and sometimes falls asleep at the table. But at night he stays in his bed which is more important to us.

It's not fun to go through but in the long run it's better for everyone. We discussed this with the nursery he attends, and when we explained it they also wake him up after 1 hour.

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