Sleep consultants are always referencing wake times (aka wake windows) and seemingly doing mad calculations throughout the day to ensure wake times aren't exceeded. But what exactly are wake times and why do they matter?
A wake time or wake window is the amount of time since baby last woke up and when baby needs to sleep again.
Why are wake windows important?
Wake windows are crucial in helping your child get quality naps and overnight sleep. Following age appropriate wake times will prevent your child from becoming overtired. An overtired child (a child who's had too much wake time) will take longer to fall asleep, have a harder time staying asleep, sleep for a shorter length of time and get lower quality of sleep overall.
Similarly, a child who hasn't had enough wake time will often exhibit these same signs. But wake windows are magic in helping your child get the best sleep possible.
How to create a schedule using wake windows
Wake windows are easiest to work with when you have a set morning wake time. I always recommend 7 AM for morning wake up as that is what's natural for most. Wake baby at the same time each day and use wake windows from there to create baby's schedule, with the shortest wake window in the morning before their first nap, and gradually increasing to the longest wake window before bedtime.
For a child on 1 nap (15-18+ months), the longest wake window will be in the morning before the nap and the shorter wake window before bedtime.
Wake windows are applicable until your child is no longer napping (around 3-4 years old).
If you need help getting baby on a schedule or have any sleep questions, set up a free 15-minute consultation with me to discuss!