You may notice your lil’ tyke nibbling at his fingers or drooling a tad more than usual during the day…so this is teething? Hah! No sweat! Except that when nighttime hits you realise you haven’t escaped the tyranny of teething at all…
It’s no phenomenon; teething pain is simply worse at night because tots are tired, and lacking in the ultimate analgesic: distraction. It’s the same for why we adults suffer chronic aches more when we’re desperate to sleep.
“Teething pain seems worse at night because infants are tired and have fewer reserves to deal with discomfort,” Dr. Andy Bernstein, a physician and fellow of the American Academy of Paediatrics explains. “Also, they don’t have the activities and fun of daytime to distract them when they’re winding down to get ready for bed.”
Unsurprisingly, a Google search of “Why is teething worse at night?” proffers up 189,000 answers. Parents are in this nightmare together everywhere, evidently.
Pain and tiredness are inextricably linked; if you’re battling with chronic pain, you’ll feel burned out, and if you’re burned out, you’ll be a lot more sensitive to maladies in general. Science suggests the relationship to have something to do with excess cortisol—the stress hormone—ramping up inflammation. Sleep decreases levels of cortisol, of course.
And then, of course, when you’re lying in bed, you have little to do but brood over your discomfort. Babies are no different; take away stimuli, and they have nothing to entertain them but the teething pain.
Bernstein advises riding out the teething train with routine:
“The consistency of a regular routine gives kids a solid foundation on which to build their own coping mechanisms.” In other words, apart from administering pain relief in the more severe instances, you can’t really get away from teething troubles in the pm until they’re over. (Sorry.)