Clock radio hack encourages kids to sleep later

Here’s how Susanne conditioned her early-riser to stay in bed a little longer:

This worked wonders with our early-rising son, though your mileage may vary. When our son was two or three, he had the maddening habit of awakening between 5 and 5:30 in the morning. We knew he was still tired but nothing worked to get to go back to sleep.

Then I decided to try setting up a clock radio in his room, set to a classical music station on low volume. We told him that it was ok to wake up when he heard the music. At first we set it to his normal wake-up time. After a few days we moved it a few minutes later, then a few minutes later a few days after that. Each night at bedtime we reinforced the message "in the morning, wait for the music, then you may get up." The volume was low enough that he could hear it only if already awake.

After a couple of weeks he reliably slept until 6:30 or 7–a huge improvement.

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  1. Liz says

    We’ve been doing this with a nature sounds setting on the alarm clock for our daughter. At first we did it to keep her in bed over the summer when the sun was up so early. Now we do it just on weekdays, and she knows it is time to get up for kindergarten if she hears the crickets. It is set to only go off during the weekday, in hopes she will sleep in on the weekends.

    Her cousins have a night light on a timer. When the light turns off it is okay to get up.

  2. Jill says

    I love it! We’re at the point that big brother can recognize the time, but little brother wakes up first. He’s able to wait for Daddy’s clock radio on weekdays but doesn’t know when he’s allowed up on weekends… so he comes in to ask.

  3. says

    My wife and I have done something similar for a few years now. We got one of those digital timers and set it to wake-up time. Into it we plugged a night light. When the light comes on, the children may get up.

  4. Julie says

    I have been considering buying one of these It’s a clock that has a bunny with eyes that open and shut. You can set the timer for when the bunny’s eyes will open. Then the child can wake up and at a glance see whether it’s time to get up by checking whether the bunny is still asleep or not.

  5. Jen_nifer says

    A fried of mine did a twist on this with her son when he was younger. Once he knew his numbers to 10 she put a digital clock in his bedroom and put masking tape over the minutes. She told him that when it showed 7 that he was allowed to leave his room. Worked wonderfully for her.