Five Things You Might Not Know About Babies’ Sleep
As parents, the subject of sleep and babies is a wondrous, often baffling one. We are confused at how a baby can wake up at the most perplexing times, and we can sit and dissect for hours on end the possible reasons - teething, developmental milestones, body temperature and so on.
However, while it is quite possible that it is often these reasons for disturbed sleep, there are some other eye-opening things you need to know about your baby's sleep which can help you understand how and why they are sleeping (or not sleeping!) in a certain way.
Our guest blogger Talya from Motherhood: The Real Deal takes us through them.
1. Babies can look fully asleep, even when they are not
That blissful moment has arrived. Your baby has closed their eyes, you quietly creep over to the cot and ever-so gently put them down, only to find that their eyes have pinged open and they are crying like you have committed the world's worst travesty.
But why? Incredibly, babies do a very good job at looking like they are in deep sleep, when they are only - in fact - in light sleep. To really make sure they are asleep, give your baby an extra 20 minutes or so from the time before they have nodded off before you put them down, to be sure they are truly in a deep sleep.
2. Babies have shorter sleep cycles than adults
While the average adult sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes, a baby's is shorter at 50-60 minutes, meaning they drift back into light sleep and have the potential to awake easily every hour or so. As babies get older, their sleep cycles thankfully lengthen.
Newborns however spend more time in deeper sleep, which is why at around four months you may see a sudden shift in your baby's sleep habits with more waking as they become lighter sleepers, more aware of sensations and stimuli, and begin to develop a pattern more similar to ours.
3. Baby's spend much less time in deep sleep
Your baby has more Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep - otherwise known as active sleep - than you. However, despite babies spending most of their time in REM sleep, it is believed that children are dreamless for the first few years of life. Instead REM sleep's main purpose in babies is to stimulate their brain, create new pathways and to assist in healthy brain development.
4. Baby's light sleep is crucial
Babies can't fend for themselves so the way your baby sleeps is vital. Being a light sleeper means that they can wake easily when they need to consume the additional calories they require to grow, or communicate that they are too hot or too cold.
5. Your baby's sleep (or lack of) starves you of how much sleep?!
OK, so losing sleep over your baby's lack of sleep is not exactly a huge surprise or something you didn't know, but if you have ever wondered how much sleep you are losing out on by your baby deciding not to sleep, the results are in - a new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year. (Huffington Post)