how to avoid sleep debt

How to Avoid Sleep Debt In Babies And Toddlers

Ah, yes. The dreaded sleep debt. I have no doubt in my mind that any parent who has experienced this in their baby or toddler just shuddered at the phrase. It’s not a fun thing to go through for both parents and little ones. In this article we’ll be discussing how to avoid sleep debt in babies and toddlers, as well as a little background info on what it actually is.

What is sleep debt?

Sleep debt is what happens when your baby or toddler isn’t getting as much sleep as they should be. There’s actually a super simple way to calculate the amount of debt (if any) your little one has accrued…


The higher the number (whether it be minutes or hours), the more sleep deprived your baby or toddler is. Steps should be taken to bring the number back to zero as soon as possible to avoid it building up and up and up until both you and baby are completely exhausted!

How can I tell if my baby or toddler has sleep debt?

Signs of sleep debt or deprivation in your little one may include:

  • A want for more daytime naps
  • Reluctance to get up out of bed or leave the cot
  • Grogginess, moodiness and irritability
  • Hyperactive behaviour in toddlers
  • Temper tantrums and unwarranted bursts of emotional distress

How to avoid sleep deprivation

To avoid sleep debt, the cause of the deprivation must first be found. Causes of a high level of sleep debt can include:

Some of these causes are unavoidable like illness or a new sibling, but some things are easier to avoid…

  • Instead of watching TV right up until the minute your little one is due for bed, try turning the TV off and read a bedtime book to them instead.
  • When you travel, take a blackout blind with you, as well as familiar sleep items.
  • Keep noise to a minimum when your little one is getting ready for bed and while they are drifting off to sleep.

Tips for dealing with sleep debt

The best tip I can give for dealing with this kind of issue is to try and formulate a plan to recover the lost shuteye. Maybe your little one could do with some recovery naps. Maybe they just need a few extra hours in the morning before waking up. If they seem to be overly groggy or irritated when they wake up, see if you can get them to snooze again for just a little bit longer.

Failing that, I will suggest asking for help if you need it! That’s why I’m here 🙂

Find the ultimate survival guide for sleep deprived parents right here!

As always, sleep sweetly and deeply and take care! x