common sleep myth my child isn't tired at bedtime

Common Sleep Myths Debunked

As a certified pediatric sleep consultant, a certified lactation consultant, and a newborn care specialist, I give families the resources and support they need to thrive during the newborn period.

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Hey Mama!

I'm Kristen!

I hear sleep myths every day of my life – in my personal and professional life. As parents, we are constantly getting an ear full of other people’s opinions. Whether it be from your parents, your grandma, your neighbor, or your best friend, everyone seems to want to impart their parental wisdom on other parents.

Some sleep myths I hear frequently include, but are certainty not limited to:

“Some kids are just bad sleepers”

“They’ll grow out of it”

“You never took naps when you were 2 and you turned out just fine”

“The baby is crying; they need to be picked up”

In this post, I am going to debunk some of the most common sleep myths. And I’m going to tell you why they just aren’t true.

Sleep Myth #1: My child has low sleep needs

Yes, every child is different and will require a different amount of sleep. But, we are talking a difference of 30 minutes, not 2+ hours. Here is the reality of this sleep myth – your child is sleeping less than other children because they are actually overtired. Overtired children usually require all the sleep “don’t need” plus more!


The cycle of overtiredness is a vicious one. When a child becomes overtired, it evokes a stress response in the body. The brain will respond by producing excess cortisol. Cortisol is most commonly known for activating our fight or flight response. So, it should come as no surprise that cortisol and sleep do not get along well.

With excess adrenaline surging through their tiny little bodies, it is challenging for an overtired child to fall asleep.  Once your child falls asleep, the increased cortisol levels make it harder for them to fall into a deep/restful sleep. Unfortunately, the body responds by producing even more cortisol. This leads to frequent night wakings, early morning wakings, or is irritability and restlessness. The cycle will keep repeating itself until they are able to “catch up” on sleep.

overtired child

If you have fallen victim to this sleep myth, your child likely needs just as much, if not more sleep. Once they are able to “catch up” on sleep it will help break the cycle of overtiredness. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. But, if you find yourself constantly wondering if your child is “low sleep needs,” consider more daytime sleep or an earlier bedtime.

Sleep Myth #2: My child isn’t tired enough for an earlier bedtime

If your child is bouncing off the walls at 7/8pm, which for most children, is an appropriate bedtime, then you probably also fall into the overtiredness bucket (see above). A child acting the exact opposite of tired at bedtime, has likely crossed the line of tired and is downright exhausted.

It can be true that your child is in fact getting too much daytime sleep and isn’t ready for an earlier bedtime, but this is rarely the case. If you find yourself in this situation, it might be time to consider dropping a nap.

Here is the reality of this sleep myth – if your child is getting an appropriate amount of daytime sleep and doesn’t “seem” ready for bed at an age appropriate time, try an even earlier bedtime. I suggest as early as 6:00/6:30 pm.

Sleep Myth #3: My child won’t sleep 12 hours overnight

Yes, yes they can and they should. Most children require 11-12 hours of sleep per night. This amount is necessary to achieve the right quality and quantity of sleep for proper brain rejuvenation. If your child isn’t getting the recommended amount of sleep per night, it is likely because they were taught differently or because we have re-enforced their bad habits. Both of which result in poor quality sleep.

A child who isn’t getting the recommended amount of daily sleep, will not adjust to sleep deprivation. Children who are not getting an adequate amount of sleep will not learn, grow, or feed as well as children who are.

Here is the reality of this sleep myth – if your child isn’t sleeping 11-12 hours overnight, then it is time to reset expectations. Check out the tips and resources available on my blog and my Instagram, or reach out to work with me directly.

Sleep Myth #4: All parents are tired

This is one of the biggest sleep myths of all. There is no award given to the most tired parent. When our children don’t sleep, we don’t sleep. When we don’t sleep, we can’t show up as the best version of ourselves (as a parent, a spouse, an employee, etc.).

Here is the reality of this sleep myth – you can be a great parent, have time to yourself, and get a full night of sleep. I know it may seem crazy, but there could be a day when you actually look forward to bedtime!

If you are tired, if you haven’t slept a full night in months, if you just feel like sleep could be better or more consistent then reach out to me. I promise I have a solution for you no matter how small or how big the fix is!

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I'm Kristen

The expert & woman behind the screen. I'm also your new best friend who is ready to empower you on this incredible journey.

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