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Why Does My Toddler Get Hyper Before Bed? 6 Crazy Causes!

By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated - 2 September 2021

"Why does my toddler get hyper before bed?" It's a question many parents will say to themselves over the course of their young child's lives and if you're here, reading this, then it's very safe to assume that your toddler is putting your through this RIGHT NOW!

And I know 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...

Well, IMAGINE what it would feel like for that to be the case!

A smooth bedtime routine and a happy toddler asleep within 15 minutes!

Well, that's what this article has been written for! I've pulled all of my expertise, experience and training to create the perfect post for YOU to help YOU and your LITTLE ONE get back on track with your bedtime routine! So let's get into it!

Why Does my toddler get hyper before bed?

Believe it or not… the most obvious reason for your toddler getting hyper before bedtime is that they’re OVERTIRED.

Yes, you heard that right. 

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.

And even though this is a MAJOR answer to "Why does my toddler get hyper before bed?" there are loads of other contributing factors and reasons as to why your toddler is struggling to sleep!

BUT before we get into all of that... To begin with we need to establish the difference between a HYPER toddler and a MISBEHAVING toddler...

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.

It is very common for toddlers to go through a phase of resisting bedtime but they will usually use stalling techniques rather than have a hyperactive burst.

If handled correctly this is usually just a passing phase that requires you to stick to the bedtime routine and not give in to any bedtime resistance. 

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.

They will commonly try stalling techniques such as wanting to read an extra story or needing a drink, but will not usually exhibit overexcited or hyperactive behaviour.

why does my toddler get hyper before bed Featured Image

Why is my toddler so active at night?

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 OVERTIRED. Here are the TOP 6 ANSWERS to the question "Why does my toddler get hyper before bed?"!

6 causes for a toddler’s burst of energy before bed

Here are some of the top reasons why a toddler will have a burst of energy right before bed:

  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.
Why Does my toddler get hyper before bed Infographic

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:

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. 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 and this is never more important than at bedtime.

Having a solid and regular bedtime will go a long way in helping you ensure your toddler is getting enough sleep. Aim to have your toddler in bed at the same time every night.

Check out my Hacking The Bedtime Routine for all of my top tricks and advice on how to get your evenings back and have smooth nighttime transitions!

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.

Top Tip

Going on a short calm walk, having a bath, reading a book or playing a calm game are great pre-bedtime activities to try.

4. Watch for tiredness cues

Your toddler’s tiredness cues will be different to when they were a baby

Knowing what your child's particular cues are will help you determine the right amount of daytime sleep your toddler needs. Missing the tiredness cues can lead to a toddler who will resist sleep even when they are desperate for it!

Tiredness cues can include clinginess, grizzling and demands for attention, not wanting to eat, clumsiness, wanting to be picked up and yawning. BabyOlogy has a great short post all about this, so head over here and check it out -> 8 easy-to-spot signs your toddler is tired!

5. Ensure you have the right nap schedule for your toddler

As I briefly mentioned above, getting enough sleep is CRUCIAL. But it can be quite tricky navigating the daytime nap schedule as it varies from toddler to toddler. 

Some toddlers can manage on one nap while others need two for a while until they can transition to the one nap schedule. 

The transition process from one nap to two can be quite tricky but most toddlers should have moved to 1 nap per day by the time they are 2 years old. Here are some sample naptime routines to get you started:

Time Of Day

Routine For 1 Nap Per Day

7am

Wake Up

1 - 2.30/3pm

Afternoon Nap

6.30 - 7.30pm

Bedtime Routine

Time Of Day

Routine For 2 Naps Per Day

7am

Wake Up

10 - 11am

Morning Nap

1 - 2pm

Afternoon Nap

6.30 - 7.30pm

Bedtime Routine

6. Limit screen time before bed

It is now 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 to name a few.

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 before bed. 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 rather than processed foods and bottled liquids will help ensure you are not accidentally giving your toddler a chemical energy boost at the end of the day!

8. Stay Calm

Handling a hyperactive child at the end of the day can be exhausting I know, but not reacting to your little one's antics can help 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. 

If they make a mess don’t complain, you can clean it up afterwards when they’ve gone to sleep. 

This may not work with all children but for some, staying super calm and non-reactive to their antics will take the excitement out of the hyperactivity and they may stop.

Sometimes all toddlers want is a reaction.

Top Tip

The less you respond to their behaviour the less likely they are to continue with it. 

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.

As I am always saying, having a stable and regular bedtime routine will be your biggest friend in this battle to get bedtime back on track.

Ensuring that your toddler is having enough daytime sleep and restricting screen time in the hour before bed will also help.

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 and playing up at bedtime, so it is how you deal with it that will determine whether this is a passing phase or an ongoing 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 article a read too!

My Toddler Won't Go To Bed Until 9pm Featured Image

Kids Get Hyper Before Bed CONCLUSION

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

  • Is your toddler getting enough daytime sleep?
  • Do you have a regular and stable bedtime routine?
  • Are you restricting screen time in the hour before bedtime?
  • Are you restricting hidden stimulants in food and drink in the hours before bedtime?
  • Are you lowering the energy levels an hour before bedtime?

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 might 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!

Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare 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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