When people use the phrase “sleeping like a baby”, they’re probably not being literal. To clarify, the words sleep and your baby doesn’t seem to go hand in hand when you are a new parent. For instance, new parents are usually very tired and exhausted trying to find the best strategies for getting their little ones to sleep.
It would seem that you can not erase the sometimes overwhelming exhaustion that comes with taking care of a baby. However, I can help you worry a little less. Certainly, you should take some comfort in the fact that some of your baby’s sleep habits are not a cause for alarm. But, are actually markers of good health. I have identified 4 fascinating facts that should help ease your concerns.
– Baby Sleep Patterns Are Different from Adult Sleep Patterns
As an adult, you depend on your biological clock to help regulate your sleep patterns. That is to say, the timing and duration of sleeping hours. However, babies are not born with a built-in biological clock already ticking.
It takes time for your baby’s biological clock to develop. As a result, newborn sleep schedules are can be erratic and unpredictable. For instance, you will probably not see a regular sleep pattern established until your infant is about 3 to 6 months old.
Moreover, even after sleep patterns are established, chances are your baby will still sleep differently than you. That is to say, babies do not go through the stages of sleep in the same way adults do.
As an adult, it is possible to go through one sleep cycle every 90 minutes or so. To clarify, a sleep cycle is from light sleep to REM (rapid eye movement)sleep.
On the other hand, your baby’s sleep cycle takes only about 50 minutes. Sleep and your baby doesn’t catch up to the adult standards until they reach their toddler years.
– Babies Are Light Sleepers
There is a good chance you have already experienced this fact. But, have you asked yourself why?
Firstly, it has to do with those shorter sleep cycles that I discussed earlier. To clarify, infants, particularly newborns, may actually wake several times between full cycles. So, it’s not so much light sleeping as it is actually developing a proper sleep habit.
For instance, researchers have found that babies spend about the same amount of time in both non-REM (quiet) and REM (active) sleep. On the other hand, as compared to most adults that typically spend about only 20% of their slumber in REM sleep.
Deep sleep actually occurs right before REM sleep and is the last of the three stages of NREM (non-REM). In other words, the other two being part of light sleep.
What does this all mean?
Not only is the infant sleep cycle shorter, but it also includes a lower percentage of deep sleep.
That is to say, it can take up to 20 minutes of light sleep before your baby sleeps into a deep slumber. Certainly, REM sleep ensues shortly after.
This is part of why sleep and your baby go hand in hand. In other words, they need to sleep more often.
– Every Baby is Different When It Comes to Daytime Naps
It is time to put matters to rest (pun intended). Sleep and your baby have always been a topic of doctors and other healthcare professionals, That is to say, they tend to have differing opinions on how much sleep your baby needs. To prevent an uproar, let’s just say yes, there are ideal numbers.
Therefore, a good nap can be generally considered lasting at least an hour and a half in length.
In addition, there are also commonly prescribed amounts of naps per day, depending on the age of your child. For example, from the ages of 2 to 5 months your child will typically take three to four naps during the day.
Moreover, The number of naps will continue to dwindle as your child gets older. That is to say, from six to nine months old your baby will take two to three naps during the day. And, eventually, as your child reaches toddler age you will find only one nap to be sufficient.
Certainly, newborns don’t nap, as much as they have short windows of waking moments, in between sleeping periods of two to four hours at a time throughout the entire day.
However, your baby’s actual sleep habits may be close to this, or completely different—depending on factors such as temperament, environment, daily routine, and more.
In other words, if you feel that your baby’s naps are unusually short. But, they nap more often or sleep through the night with relative ease. This is considered normal behavior.
For instance, if your baby naps for more than an hour and a half but takes fewer naps overall, that’s fine, too.
In short, the most important fact is the total number of hours spent sleeping in a day—about 11 to 18 hours, depending on the baby’s age is considered normal.
Most importantly, as long as your baby is happy and healthy, a deviation from the standard daytime sleep habits is not a big deal.
– Babies Learn and Process Information During Sleep
Babies get a lot of sleep, Contrary to what some may believe.
Likewise, this is good news. As a result, sleep influences learning and memory. Therefore, if it is true for adults that spend one-third of their lives asleep, what more for babies that spend up to 75% of their time sleeping? In short, babies are constantly training themselves to recognize their parent’s voices. In addition, figuring out working non-verbal cues to express feelings like hunger, pain, and so much more. That is to say, babies learn and test the limits of their environment continuously when they’re awake.
What they learn is then consolidated and bolstered by periods of sleep in between their waking moments.
Related: Baby Sleep Techniques – 6 Science-BasedStrategies
Create a Learning Environment
Certainly, there may not be any conclusive proof that learning while sleeping works with adults. However, most studies on this actually refer to memory reactivation, which requires previous learning while awake.
To sum up, sleep and your baby can actually work to improve your child’s brain functions.