FAQ: Why does my baby not sleep at night?
Sleep in babies is a widely discussed topic as new mothers and parents struggle quite a lot with sleep deprivation. To understand sleep in babies, it is essential to understand the differences in the sleep patterns and sleep cycles between babies and adults.
Sleep patterns in babies :
Sleep patterns in babies are influenced by both - genetic and environmental factors. Newborns and young infants are famous for sleeping and waking up at unusual times. It happens because their circadian rhythms (our body cycle that corresponds to day and night) aren't yet synchronized with the natural rhythms of daylight and darkness. Research suggests that all babies develop their circadian rhythms at different times. Exposing babies to ample sunlight during the day and dimming the artificial lights as bedtime approaches can help this process.
Sleep cycles in babies :
Sleep has several stages like light sleep, transitional sleep, deep sleep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) etc. When one whole sequence of all the stages is complete, one sleep cycle is said to be complete.
Adult sleep cycles are approximately 90 to 100 minutes long. In babies, sleep cycles are much shorter - ranging from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the age of the baby. Younger the baby, the shorter the sleep cycles.
Sleep lab research shows that we're especially prone to awaken during or immediately after REM, which is the last stage of the adult sleep cycle, but the very first stage of the baby sleep cycle. This is why babies are more prone to wake up often. Another thing is that - REM makes for about 20% of total adult sleep time. Whereas, in newborns and young babies, REM makes up for more than 50% of their total sleep hours - increasing their possibility of waking up often even more. One might wonder why so much REM for babies when it doesn’t let them sleep longer. The reason is that - REM is important for brain development and light sleeping helps babies protect themselves from oxygen deprivation.
Along with the points mentioned above, babies are biologically designed to wake up often to nurse. It helps them maintain their hydration and sugar levels.
When do babies start sleeping through the night?
Sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone which each baby achieves at different times. Every baby is different and gradually starts sleeping through the night when she is developmentally and emotionally ready for it. Some research has shown that some babies start sleeping for 5+ hours at a stretch from as early as 2-3 months of age. Research has suggested that upto 80% of babies start sleeping for 5+ hours at a stretch by the age of 9-12 months. However, these claims are not in line with what most parents observe and experience with their babies around the world.
In BSIM alone, lots of mothers have babies waking up several times during night until they are well beyond 2 years.
Myths about sleeping through the night :
Breastfeeding and Sleep :
Breastfeeding can enable mothers and parents to have as less-interrupted sleep as possible.
How to help babies sleep better?
There are no techniques that guarantee a good night’s sleep for a baby, but there are some strategies that have worked for some mothers and parents.
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