10 Baby Sleep Facts

10 Baby Sleep Facts

The old adage “sleep like a baby” conjures up visions of a well-rested, quietly sleeping baby. Who knew the effort that it can take to get a baby to sleep and help them to stay asleep? I certainly didn’t before my first child was born!

We’ve put together 10 baby sleep facts to help out sleep-deprived parents, some of which might not be quite what you’d expect…who knew that over-tired babies find it harder to get to sleep than those which nap regularly? 

  1. Newborn babies need 16 hours of sleep a day. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a7645/how-much-sleep-does-your-baby-need
  2. By the time they’re a year old they still need 13 hours 45 minutes sleep a day. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a7645/how-much-sleep-does-your-baby-need
  3. Newborns sleep longer when swaddled. Swaddling inhibits their startle reflex by gently restricting arm and leg movement, helping babies have longer, uninterrupted sleep. More information at justthefactsbaby.com/baby/article/how-to-swaddle-a-baby-165
  4. Managing naps is essential for developing good sleeping habits. A nap late in the day can interfere with night time sleep and no nap can lead to overtiredness.
  5. Sleep breeds sleep. Babies who are well rested sleep better overall. Sleep deprived babies actually fight sleep. Overtired babies need a lot more help to sleep and research shows that they also cry more. http://www.babycareadvice.com/babycare/general_help/article.php?id=31
  6. Babies exposed to lots of daylight are more likely to sleep well at night. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4032225.st
  7. Babies have shorter sleep cycles than adults. Adult sleep cycles (moving from light to deep sleep and back) last an average of 90 minutes. Infant sleep cycles are shorter, about 50 to 60 minutes, so they are susceptible to waking every hour or less.
  8. Neuroscientists believe babies don’t dream for the first few years of their life. http://www.livescience.com/33702-babies-dream-sleep.html 

And how does all of this affect the parents?

Unfortunately, a baby who doesn’t sleep very well has consequences for how much sleep its parents get, and not just in the short term.

  1. A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year.
  2. One of the best predictors of insomnia later in life is the development of bad habits from having sleep disturbed by young children.

In an ideal world, taking note of baby sleep facts 1 – 8 should help avoid the pitfalls of 9 and 10.

Good luck!

p.s many parents agree that keeping the baby’s room light during the day and dark at night helps provide them with cues when to sleep. Not to mention that melatonin is the natural hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles and the body produces it when it is dark.