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

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 02/09/22 •  10 min read  •  Toddler » Toddler Sleep

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. And 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 it really too much to ask?

A smooth bedtime routine and a happy toddler asleep within 15 minutes… Is it really possible?!

Well after years of handling hyper toddlers and helping parents get their evenings back on track…

I’ve pulled all of my expertise, experience and training to create the perfect post for YOU and your LITTLE ONE to get back on track with your bedtime routine!

So without wasting any more time, let’s get into it!

They won’t sleep because they need sleep… Makes total sense right?

Well, let me explain…

When a child is overtired it triggers a burst of adrenaline and cortisol to help them stay awake.

This is the body’s way of trying to fix the problem of being overtired but it simply results in your child being hyper and agitated.

6 Causes For A Toddler’s Burst Of Energy Before Bed

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. As mentioned before, they’re overtired!
  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 before bed!
  6. There are too many high activity moments before bedtime.

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

Ensuring your toddler has the right amount of age-appropriate sleep will determine whether your child’s bedtime antics are due to lack of sleep and overtiredness or a desire to push the boundaries.

Hyperactive Toddlers

A hyperactive toddler will show an increase in energy just before bedtime.

They will have an inability 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 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 Do You Calm A Hyperactive Toddler At Night?

So how do you calm a toddler who has gone into a state of hyperactive mania right before bed? Well, here are my TOP 8 TIPS for you to try:

8 Ways To Calm A Hyperactive Toddler At Night

1. Ensure Your Toddler Is Having Enough Age-Appropriate Sleep

Most toddlers still need at least one nap per day and some will still need two during the transition phase. (Psst: Read this post to learn when to drop your toddler’s nap!)

Your toddler may also need longer nighttime sleep so they may need to go to bed earlier. 

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 you get bedtime back on track!

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 and regular bedtime will go a long way in helping you ensure your toddler is getting enough sleep.

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.

It is excellent at breaking down the evening routine and is a gem that you can refer to while you are getting your little one ready for bed over and over again.

Bedtime By Elizabeth Verdick
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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 the energy levels.

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

They will be spellbound by the moving reflections on the ceiling and the anti-blue light on LICKLIPs 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.

Our Pick
Toddler Night Light Lamp By LICKLIP

There are a lot of night lights out there but I love this one. The perfect bedside lamp is easy to use and projects onto the ceiling. It comes in a range of colours, soft lighting and a timer.

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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 the tiredness cues can lead to a toddler who will resist sleep even when they are desperate for it!

Toddler tiredness cues can include:

Don’t ignore these sleep cues when they’re happening, as it will make your life much harder down the line!

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

As I briefly mentioned above, ensuring your toddler gets enough sleep is CRUCIAL.

However, the nap transition process from two to one can be quite tricky…

Having said that, most toddlers should have moved to 1 nap per day by the age of 2.

Here are some sample naptime routines to get you started:

Time Of DayRoutine For 1 Nap Per Day
7amWake Up
1pm to 3pmAfternoon Nap
6.30pm to 7.30pmBedtime Routine
Time Of DayRoutine For 2 Naps Per Day
7amWake Up
10am to 11amMorning Nap
1pm to 2pmAfternoon Nap
6.30pm to 7.30pmBedtime Routine

6. Limit Screen Time Before Bed

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. 

It is advised that you restrict exposure to screens in the run-up to bedtime with NO screens for at least an hour before bed.

Instead focus on going for a calm walk, reading a book or having a bath.

Another great option is a puzzle together. Doing a puzzle with your toddler before bed is calming and bonding with the added bonus of being educational too.

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.

Wooden Toddler Puzzles By MAGIFIRE - Eco & Montessori Friendly
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7. Look For Hidden Caffeine In The Food And Drink You Are Giving Your Toddler Before Bed

Another trigger for overactivity 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. 

Sticking to wholesome homemade foods and natural drinks 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. Stay Calm

I know… Handling a hyperactive child at the end of the day 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.

So, if they make a mess… don’t complain, just clean it up after they’ve gone to sleep. 

So what do you do if your toddler is NOT hyperactive but is misbehaving at bedtime instead?

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!

If you don’t have a proper bedtime routine then now is the time to establish one. As only this will help you get your toddler back on track.

(Remember to check out my Hacking The Bedtime Routine post for more advice on how to establish this!)

Also, it is important to bring down the energy levels in the last hour of the day before bedtime. So avoid over-energetic games and keep things calm and simple.

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.

My post Toddler Going to Bed too Late? will also teach you a lot of techniques for how to deal with bedtime issues, so pop over and give that a read too!

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.

If you enjoyed this post and know other parents who would enjoy this content, be sure to give it a share!

And if you have any blog recommendations that you’d like me to write about or have any further questions about hyperactivity before bed, be sure to drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know! I absolutely love hearing from you!

Thank you for your continued support!

And until next time, with love and support, Happy Parenting!

Paula McLaren

Paul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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