Facts About Infants And Sleep You Should Know

infant sleepAnyone who has had a baby knows that the phrase “sleeping like a baby” really means anything but quiet, contented sleep.

Babies toss and turn, they wake up frequently—in fact, it seems like they do anything but sleep peacefully.

One thing you should know is that infants have shorter sleep cycles than adults.

When an adult falls asleep, they go through a sleep cycle in about 90 minutes. If you’ve ever taken a short nap and woken up groggier than when you went to sleep, it’s because you awakened while you were in a period of deep sleep.

If you had waited until the end of your baby sleep cycle, you would have been easier to awaken because you would have completed the cycle and gone back into a period of light sleep.

For an infant, the sleep cycle lasts only an hour or less. This means that an infant is in a period of light sleep—and vulnerable to being awakened—about every 50 to 60 minutes. Sometimes a gentle word or a pat on the back when your baby is stirring during light sleep is enough to help them stay asleep.

These periods of light sleep at night are actually beneficial to baby. Your baby can only communicate with you when she is awake. If she slept deeply during the night, she couldn’t cry to let you know she was hungry, wet, or had some other need that only you could meet for her.

By having longer and more frequent periods of light sleep, your baby can let you know when she needs your help. Perhaps the baby blanket is too near her face and she is having trouble breathing; if she is sleeping too deeply, she can’t move her head or cry.

In fact, it is often thought that one underlying mechanism that leads to SIDS death is babies forgetting to breathe and being too sound asleep to wake up.

The way a baby sleeps also helps her brain grow. During lighter periods of sleep, your baby’s brain is very active. It is producing chemicals which help it grow and develop.

In fact, your baby’s brain will grow to about 70 percent of its adult size in only 2 years. The brain is processing the things the baby saw and learned that day, and storing away information for future use.

Posted in: Baby Sleep

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