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Cortisol & Overtired Babies

Cortisol is a stress hormone that has many purposes in our bodies. It serves purposefully to wake us up in the morning, it gives us a second wind if we stay up too late and its one our key “fight or flight” hormones.​

However, it can have negative effect when a baby is deprived of sleep. This is why awake and sleep windows are so essential for young children​.

If a baby becomes sleep deprived after missing their sleep window it creates increased cortisol levels and for us it means an overtired baby that won’t sleep!​

The elevated cortisol keeps babies from being able to go to sleep easily or stay asleep for long periods.

Two common signs related to babies from an elevated of cortisol is prolonged crying and when baby finally does go to sleep they are awake again shortly after. These baby’s are “wired” and even though they are in desperate need of sleep their bodies are fighting this innate urge.​

What can we do with overtired babies?​

  • ​Learn to understand their awake windows based on their age​

  • Prioritise sleep and routine as much as possible​

  • If you have an overtired baby, get the baby to sleep as soon as you can and in any way you can. Assisted naps is an excellent way to get baby to sleep such as car, pram or baby carrier.

  • Expect an early morning rise the next day (this happens if a child is very overtired) and start again the next day!

For further advice contact me via whatsApp on 0490 022 371 or

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