Drowsy but awake: The unicorn of baby/child sleep.

As a sleep consultant, there are so many phrases and idioms I hear on a daily basis. Here are a few:

Night wakings

Sleep cycles

Crap naps


And the topper DROWSY BUT AWAKE

Many times before I start my work with a client we’ll be chatting and the mom will insist that there was a time where baby was falling asleep on their own.

Which is amazing!

BUT I dig deeper because I want to find out what strategies were working and it usually turns out that mama has been following the persistent myth of ‘drowsy but awake.’

Mom feeds, rocks, bounces, contorts her body into a number of positions, gets baby ‘drowsy’ puts baby into the crib and they fall asleep! Yay! They did it on their own. But, alas I’m sorry to report that they didn’t 🙁 (Look, I said I’m sorry!) Many times this baby who was drowsy but awake is up 20 minutes later after an hour of above. That’s pattern is exhausting (but, bonus,  may make you more physically fit!)

Let’s go back to some sleep science. There are actually 5 stage of sleep

Stage 1. Very light sleep. Easy to wake someone and they might not think they were asleep.

Stage 2. Still light, but you would admit to sleeping if someone woke you.

Stage 3. Beginning of deep sleep.

Stage 4. Slow-wave sleep.

Stage 5: Back into stage 3 for 10 min, then REM begins.

Usually when moms tell me their baby is ‘drowsy’ but awake, I start to get worried because they could very much be in Stage 1 or Stage 2 of sleep. This means they are not falling asleep on their own and when the child does wake up they are looking for the same conditions that were present before they fell asleep.

So what does this mean? How do you put your baby to sleep if NOT drowsy but awake.

Here’s the secret.

Are you ready?

You put them to sleep AWAKE AWAKE.

That’s it.

This of course is the challenging part–and how baby learns how to do this will be different for every baby. You can call me for a free 15 minute consult here to find out if your baby is going to sleep ‘awake-awake’ or ‘drowsy-but-awake’ OR watch my FACEBOOK LIVE first!

I’ll be doing a facebook live on drowsy but awake on Tuesday, October 24 on just this topic and passing on some tips to help YOUR baby/child fall asleep unassisted! Follow me on Facebook, and book your free discovery call with me today!

Sleep well,


Whether you’re at the beginning stages of sleep training with your baby or you just want to improve your mental health as a parent, the sleep consultants at Baby’s Best Sleep are here to help.

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