Why Is My Child Suddenly Waking Up at Night?

Nov 01, 2023

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Is your child struggling with disrupted sleep? As you know, getting enough quality sleep is a crucial part of your child’s health and development, and lack of sleep can take a real toll on their mental and physical well-being, especially when it persists.

Suddenly waking up at night could be a sign of an emerging sleep disorder. In fact, up to half of all young children and as many as two in five teens develop a sleep disorder at some point. But don't worry, help is available. 

At Angel Kids Pediatrics in Jacksonville, Amelia Island, and Saint Johns, Florida, our expert team specializes in diagnosing and treating children and adolescents of all ages with pediatric sleep disorders, including insomnia, night terrors, sleep apnea, and bedwetting. 

Let’s take a closer look at the various reasons your child may be waking up suddenly at night. 

Possible reasons behind sudden night waking

As parents, there's nothing you want more than the well-being of your little ones. You celebrate their first steps, their first words, and all their milestones with joy. But parenthood also comes with its fair share of concerns, including your child's ever-evolving sleep patterns. 

It's natural to worry when your toddler, who has been sleeping through the night, suddenly starts waking up. Not only does this disrupt your sleep, but it can also impact your child's behavior and growth. Likewise, it’s just as concerning when your teen, who used to sleep so well, starts waking up at night and can’t get back to sleep. 

With the help of our team at Angel Kids Pediatrics, you’ll get the answers you need to help your child restore optimal sleep habits. Here are a few reasons growing kids may start waking up suddenly when they should still be asleep: 

Sleep regression

Sleep regression is when a child who has been sleeping well suddenly begins waking up at night and has trouble falling back asleep. Sleep regression typically occurs around 18 months of age, and again at 24 months.

Nightmares or night terrors

Nightmares and night terrors can frighten children and cause them to wake up. Nightmares are scary dreams that can make a child feel threatened, while night terrors are episodes of intense fear that happen during deep sleep.

Changes in routine

Any significant changes in your child's routine, such as starting daycare, moving to a new house, or the arrival of a new sibling, can trigger episodes of sudden night wakings.

Teething or illness

Discomfort from teething or illness can also cause your child to wake up at night, until the problem is resolved.

Separation anxiety

Children can become anxious if they feel like you’re leaving them alone in their room when it’s time to sleep, which can cause them to wake up. Separation anxiety is common between eight and 18 months, but can happen at any age.

Tips to soothe your wakeful child

If your child is struggling to maintain a normal sleep routine, it may be time to start a sleep training program. Sleep training can help your child learn how to fall asleep and stay asleep independently.


Besides addressing the underlying causes of night waking, there are several steps you can take to help your child get a better night's sleep. We recommend that you:

Maintain a consistent bedtime routine

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is one of the most important things you can do for your child's sleep health. A predictable routine before bed can signal to your child that it's time to sleep. This might include giving them a warm bath, listening to soft music, or reading a story.

Comfort your child

If your child wakes up scared from a nightmare, comfort them and reassure them that you're there. Stay with them for as long as it takes to fall back asleep.  

Check for physical discomfort

If your child is teething or unwell, they might need some pain relief to help them sleep. Ask our team which type of medication is best for your child’s age and specific sleep-disrupting pain or discomfort problem. 

Limit sugary foods and drinks before bed

Sugar can interfere with your child's ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, so it’s best to avoid sweet foods and beverages after dinnertime. 

Our experts can help your child sleep better

If you're concerned about your child's sleep patterns, contact us at 904-224-KIDS (5437) or request an appointment online today. With multiple offices in Jacksonville, Amelia Island, and Saint Johns, Florida, our pediatric experts offer guidance and support tailored to your child's specific needs.

Remember, while night wakings can be exhausting for you as a parent, they’re usually just a phase in your child's development. You'll both get through this with patience, consistency, and, when needed, professional guidance. Here's to peaceful nights ahead.