4 Signs of an Overtired Child and How You Can Help

Have you ever gone to bed later than your normal bedtime and struggled to fall asleep? It is normal to have a hard time falling asleep when we are overtired.  The same is true for our children. It is much tougher for our kids to fall asleep when they are overtired.

It is always best if we can catch our little ones before they become overtired and you can do that by looking out for their sleepy cues. However, sometimes it is inevitable. We might miss those sleepy cues or we might have had an active day and the overtired stage comes more quickly than we’d expect.  Also, sometimes if our kids are not on enough or at the right times, they can be overtired more often than not. How do you know if your child is overtired? What signs are you looking for and how can you help?

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The 4 C’s of Overtired


Cheerfully hyper or silly

You’re not sure what happened, but your sweet child is now running around the house and potentially jumping from the sofa.  They are running at full force. Or they are laughing up a storm and dancing a silly dance. Maybe you are thinking that they just had a burst of energy that may even be bringing a smile to your face. If this is a big change from their otherwise calm behavior, they are past the point of being tired.



Watch out, here comes your child’s moody side.  He or she may be easily bursting into tears, overreacting to the slightest thing.  Or have quick mood swings.  Yes, I know this can be common in the toddler stages, but if you are approaching bed or nap time, it could mean that sleepy cues have been missed and they are longing for some shut eye.



It is the best feeling in the world when your child climbs into your lap and cuddles up to you.  But for some, this could be an overtired sign.  This may be time to take that little love of yours to bed.



Ut oh! Did he just drop that? Did she just trip? Losing coordination can also be a sign of being overtired.


How you can help


Get them to bed

This may seem obvious, but with some of the above overtired signs it can seem like they are not tired at all. It is ok in this instance to shorten your bedtime routine and get them into bed as soon as you can.  It is possible that when he or she may cry a little as they are working to fall asleep.  Remember, it is harder to fall asleep when overtired.  So, try to give them the space to work through it and get to sleep on their own.


Make up for lost sleep

If your child is tired, then it is possible that they missed out on sleep somewhere.  Maybe a nap was skipped or maybe they had a later bedtime the previous day.  In any case, the best place to make up for lost sleep is with an earlier bedtime. This early evening sleep is precious and can do wonders.


Down time

If it is just too early to put them to bed and naps are gone, you might consider some down time.  I like to call this quiet time.  This is a time, perhaps in their room, where they can play with calmer toys, read or color.  This will help their bodies to rest a bit to help them make it to bedtime.


Ensure that they get quality sleep

There are times in the day where your child gets more restorative sleep than other times in the day.  These times and the amount of sleep evolves as they grow.  An age appropriate schedule is vital for healthy sleep.

Helping your child to obtain healthy sleeping habits and keeping them well rested is important for their growth and development.  If you are offering the right amount of sleep at the right times and independent sleep, you are giving them a beautiful gift.


Good Night Sleep Site Consultant
Good Night Sleep Site Consultant

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