Dr. Daniel Weissbluth helps families with sleep all over the Chicagoland area. The 5:30 bedtime rut is a common concern and hopefully this post helps families navigating this topic.
If you cannot make one of the talks, please call 312-202-0300 if you would like your child to join WP
The below is an excerpt from Sleep Consult
“During nap transitions from (3 to 2 or 2 to 1 nap) or at times when your child gets off schedule that causes him to become very drowsy between 4:00 -5:00PM, you put him to sleep at 5:30PM. But this super early bedtime causes him to wake up too early in the morning to take naps in synch with his biological nap rhythm. So he is sleepy during the day and is falling apart at the end of the day. See also: How to Choose and Early Bedtime
If he is going from 3 to 2 naps, you must try to keep him up for his first nap or else the rest of the day’s naps are off kilter. It is more tolerable to deal with early morning fussing as you struggle to get to a 9:00AM nap than it would be to let him nap around 7:30-8:00AM and then have an off nap mid-day and a miserable late afternoon when his sleep tank goes empty.
Similarly, if he is going from 2 to 1 nap, you have to temporarily maintain an early bedtime even if he wakes up to early as you try to push his single nap towards mid-day. The early bedtime allows you to start the single nap near the mid-day but if he wakes up too early, this will be difficult and the going will be slow and rough. But there would have been a much more difficult fussy time in the late afternoon if his single nap took place early in the morning.
Often these nap transitions are messy and last about a month and you feel stuck with a too early bedtime, the 5:30 PM Bedtime Rut.. My impression is that if the child is well rested going into these transitions, then it goes more smoothly. In contrast, children who are borderline short on sleep have much more difficulty when they drop a nap.”
Have a great weekend and hope to see you soon.