While some people enjoy mornings more than others, the reality is that there are things we need to get up and do in the morning whether we want to or not. Here are some things to consider if you have a child who struggles to get vertical in the AM:
- Make sure your child is getting to bed at an appropriate time in the evening to ensure at least 8-9 hours of quality sleep. Lack of sleep is one of the major reasons people struggle to wake up in the morning, so getting to bed on time the night before is crucial. This may require having kids leave electronic devices out of their rooms during the night to avoid the temptation for texting, playing games, etc. long after parents think the kids are asleep.
- Put the alarm clock across the room from the bed. When a child can simply reach over and slap the snooze or off button, it’s easy to ignore the alarm and stay in bed. When the alarm goes off across the room, however, it requires actually getting up and moving to turn it off. Once people are physically up and out of bed, it is less likely they will get back into bed.
- Try setting the alarm clock to different sounds or types of music, depending on what seems to rouse your child best. Some kids wake up more easily to music, especially if it’s a type of music they prefer, while a buzzer sound is more effective for others. Experiment to see what works best for your child.
- Use a slow-wake alarm clock. These clocks have light and sound features that mimic the rising of the sun to allow for the brain and body to come out of sleep over a period of 30-45 minutes. This can be especially helpful for people who need time to wake up, or who struggle to wake from a deep phase of their sleep cycle. The lights and sounds start prior to the actual wake up time, and get louder and brighter as the time to wake gets closer. By the time the full brightness and sound is achieved it is time to get out of bed and the person may be more fully alert and able to rise without difficulty.
- Begin the waking process 20-30 minutes prior to when children actually need to get up. Start by opening the bedroom door so light and sounds from the hallway enter. A few minutes later, go into the room and let your child know that it will be time to get up in a few minutes. The next step would be to open the curtains (if it’s starting to get light outside) or turn on a lamp inside the bedroom. When it’s time for your child to get up, stand by the bed and announce that it’s time to get out of bed. Then make sure you stay there until your child actually stands up and starts moving!
It can be frustrating for everyone involved when a child struggles to get up in the morning on time. Children and young adults with anxiety, attention, mood, and behavior challenges can especially struggle with waking in the morning. While there can be many reasons for waking difficulties, these ideas provide some starting points for helping kids get up on time. If you have tried these (or other) strategies and your child is still having significant waking difficulties, it may be time to speak with your child’s physician about investigating possible sleep disorders that can cause sleeping and waking challenges.