Why Do Toddlers Get Hyper Before Bed? The 6 Crazy Causes!

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 03/15/23 •  Sleep / Sleep Tips

It’s 9pm. You’ve been trying over and over to get your toddler to sleep. But over and over, they refuse to drift off.

Internally you’re screaming “Why do toddlers get hyper before bed?!”

It’s awful. Exhausting. Draining. Infuriating even…

In fact, all you want is for your toddler to blissfully fall asleep so that you can have a moment of quiet to yourself in the evening… Is that really too much to ask?

Why Does My Toddler Get Hyper Before Bed?

Causes Of A Toddler’s Hyperactivity At Bedtime

While you should not rule out ADHD as a cause of your toddlers’ hyperactivity at night, I would say that more often than not a child’s hyper behaviour at the end of the day is due to them being:

  1. Overtired or overstimulated.
  2. There is a lack of a regular bedtime routine.
  3. Your toddler is not getting enough daytime sleep.
  4. They are getting too much screen time before bed.
  5. They are having too much caffeine, sugar or artificial stimulants before bed (usually from their dinner)
  6. There are too many high-energy moments in the lead-up to bedtime.

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

How Do You Calm A Hyper Toddler At Night?

Many children fall into a vicious cycle of hyperactivity before bed which can be very hard for parents to break. But it’s not because they’ve done anything wrong…

It’s simply a case that they didn’t know where to go next.

So, how do you calm a toddler who keeps getting hyper before bed?

8 Ways To Calm A Hyperactive Toddler At Night

1. Play Your Day Around Sleep

As I always say: sleep breeds sleep.

So if you manage naps correctly during the day, you will find your little one will go to bed far easier because they’re not pumped full of adrenaline.

Most toddlers still need at least one nap per day and some will still need two during the nap transition phase.

You will know what your toddler needs and this may take some adjusting before you hit the right balance, but investing time in getting this right will go a long way in helping reduce hyperactivity before bed.

2. Have A Regular And Healthy Bedtime Routine

If you don’t already have a regular bedtime routine then now is the time to get one. 

Toddlers need consistency and they love routine. Having a solid bedtime that prepares your child for sleep will go a long way in ensuring they fall and stay asleep.

A simple book to help you through the bedtime routine and help your toddler wind down at the end of the day is Bedtime by Elizabeth Verdick.

Bedtime By Elizabeth Verdick
This book is an excellent way to break down the evening routine that you can refer to while you are getting your little one ready for bed over and over again in a fun and approachable way.
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3. Ensure That The Last Hour Before Bed Is Calm

Keeping things calm and simple at the end of the day can help with a child that is prone to hyperactivity.

Discourage lively activities in the last hour before bed and concentrate on lowering energy levels by going on a short calm walk, having a bath, reading a book or playing a calm game.

Another great tool for getting your toddler to calm down is to use a night light projector.

They will be spellbound by the moving reflections on the ceiling and the anti-blue light on LICKLIP’s toddler night light projector means it won’t be overstimulating.

Night light projectors also help with toddler separation anxiety and fears of the dark both of which can easily disrupt your bedtime routine.

My Top Pick
Toddler Night Light Lamp By LICKLIP

Finding the right night light for your child can be quite a task. You want something safe, comforting, and practical. The Cozy Starry Night Light ticks these boxes, with eye-friendly warm lighting and an easy-to-use dimmer.

Its gentle glow makes it the best night light for feeding baby, diaper changes, or comforting your little one back to sleep.

As your baby grows the Cozy Starry Night Light's starry sky projection can provide comfort and gentle quiet time stimulation. Its soft lighting ensures a dreamy, peaceful environment, supporting your baby’s natural sleep cycle.

It really is a fantastic nightlight (at a very reasonable price!)

  • Eye-friendly warm lighting with adjustable brightness.
  • Includes a timer function for convenience.
  • Projects a starry sky that is soothing for little ones.
  • Rechargeable battery, so it's very portable.
  • A USB adapter is not included for charging.
  • The star projector is static without motion (however, this is ideal for very young babies and toddlers).
  • Battery life varies based on the brightness settings.
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4. Watch For Tiredness Cues

Your toddler’s tiredness cues will be different to when they were a baby. And missing these cues can lead to a toddler who will resist sleeping even when they are desperate for it.

Toddler tiredness cues can include:

5. Ensure You Have The Right Nap Schedule For Your Toddler

As I briefly mentioned above, ensuring your child gets enough sleep over a 24-hour period is crucial to avoiding hyperactive toddlers at bedtime.

Here are some sample naptime routines to ensure your toddler’s sleeping habits don’t interfere with your bedtime preparations:

Schedule For 1 Nap Per Day

Here is a sample 1 nap schedule for toddlers:

1 Nap Schedule For 18 Month Old

Schedule For 2 Naps Per Day

Here is a sample 2 nap schedule for toddlers:

2 Nap Schedule For 18 Month Old

6. Limit Screen Time Before Bed

When asking “why do toddlers get hyper before bed?” you need to take a long hard look at your family’s habits in the evenings.

It is a proven fact that exposure to blue light from screens will inhibit your toddler’s melatonin production which interferes with their natural sleep patterns. 

Therefore, it’s advised that you restrict exposure to screens in the run-up to bedtime with no screens at all for at least an hour before bed – and this is for everyone so you set an example to your children.

Instead, go for a calm family walk, read a book together or have a cosy bubble bath.

Another great option is to complete a puzzle together. Doing a puzzle with your toddler before bed is calming and bonding with the added bonus of refining their fine motor skills too.

Wooden Toddler Puzzles By MAGIFIRE - Eco & Montessori Friendly
I love these wooden puzzles from Magifire. They are perfect for 2 to 3-year-olds and are not too challenging for an end-of-the-day activity but remain entertaining enough to be engaging.
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7. Look For Hidden Caffeine In The Food And Drink You Are Giving Your Toddler Before Bed

Another trigger for hyperactivity before bedtime may be hidden in what your toddler eats at dinner.

Check what is in the food and drinks you are serving up at tea time to ensure there is no hidden caffeine, excess sugar or artificial stimulants. 

Sticking to wholesome homemade foods and water is best as it will help to ensure you are not accidentally giving your toddler a chemical energy boost at the end of the day!

8. Identify and Eliminate Tantrum Triggers

Children don’t like change, but bedtimes are full of mini-changes… 

From putting away toys, having a bath, getting dressed, choosing a book and so on… 

There are lots of points at which a tantrum or stubborn streak can emerge especially when your toddler is hyper, overtired or overstimulated.

Therefore, you need to be one step ahead of your little one and anticipate and divert from any bedtime battle triggers.

My course “Bedtime Battles” includes bite-sized videos ready for you to watch explaining the most common bedtime battles and the exact steps to stop them in their tracks.

All you have to do is implement the step-by-step strategies.

The Bedtime Battles Masterclass 👈

And if you think that your bedtimes are truly a lost cause, don’t worry. I’ll explain how to get back on track, no matter where you find yourself, too.

9. Stay Calm

I know… Handling a hyperactive child at bedtime is exhausting.

But not reacting to your little one’s antics will help to defuse the situation.

As long as they are safe then try not to respond to what they are doing by running after them or saying ‘no’ all the time. 

Trust me…

They will get bored if they don’t get a reaction from you.

What Are The Differences Between A Hyperactive Toddler And A Misbehaving Toddler At Bedtime?

When asking “why do toddlers get hyper before bed?” you need to distinguish whether your toddler is hyper or simply pushing boundaries.

Therefore, ensuring they get the right amount of age-appropriate sleep will help you determine whether your child’s bedtime antics are due to lack of sleep and overtiredness or a desire to see how far they can push things.

Hyperactive Toddlers

A hyperactive toddler will show an increase in energy just before bedtime. They will not be able to concentrate or sit still and will often be irrational, resistant and liable to meltdowns.

Misbehaving Toddlers

If overtiredness is not the issue and your toddler just wants to test the boundaries over bedtime or is experiencing some anxiety over separation or nighttime fears… then they will probably be very clingy.

It is very common for toddlers to go through this defiant phase and they will try stalling techniques such as wanting to read an extra story or needing a drink rather than have a hyperactive burst.

How To Handle Bedtime Battles If Your Child Is Misbehaving At Bedtime

Well, if your toddler is resisting bedtime, they are just testing the boundaries and seeing what they can get away with.

While it may be tempting to give in to your toddler’s demands to go to bed later, I would highly recommend that you stick with your normal routine and do not give in.

Remember that it is normal for toddlers to go through a phase of resisting bedtime, so it is how you deal with this behaviour that will determine whether this is a passing phase or an escalating problem.

You can always use a bedtime routine chart to help keep your toddler engaged in the bedtime routine too.

Free Printable Bedtime Routine Chart For Kids - why do toddlers get hyper before bed

Why Do Toddlers Get Hyper Before Bed Conclusion

So if your kids get hyper before bed then ask yourself these important questions:

If you address these issues and your toddler is still hyper before bed, then you may need to contact a medical professional to get your child assessed for ADHD. 

However, this condition is rarer than you think and if your toddler is only showing signs of being hyper at the end of the day, then the reasons I have given are more likely to be the cause and can be remedied.

Further Reading

Here is a list of sleep schedules to help you establish healthy sleep habits in your little one to finally put an end to hyperactivity before bed, once and for all!

Need More Parenting Help?

Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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