We all know that sleep is essential. It’s as important as a good feed and lots of love. A newborn baby will sleep a lot, which is essential for their development. A peaceful sleep allows them to absorb their daily changes and be ready to have more new experiences when they wake.
Your baby will likely have its own sleep pattern; it probably won’t be like their older brother or sister or any other baby you may know. There is an overwhelming amount of advice available online, whether from a medical expert, scientist, or other mothers.
You can sometimes face the various challenges associated with a solid sleep schedule. You’ll want to encourage your baby to sleep naturally and stay asleep for long periods. Remember that this is equally as important for you; you also need to rest and heal.
A body is naturally driven by circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the behavioral, mental and physical changes your body experiences over a 24-hour cycle, predominantly driven by light and dark. This complex cycle affects every living thing, from microbes and plants to animals and children. Typically, a balanced circadian rhythm will encourage being awake throughout the day and sleeping at night. You can think of these patterns as an internal clock. When babies are born, they don’t have an accurate internal clock or recognize daylight and night; it will take a little while for your baby to synchronize. Various studies show that babies develop better when they are exposed to routines during daylight hours and encouraged to sleep at night. In a nutshell, when your brain senses daylight, it releases cortisol which helps you wake up. When it starts to get dark, it releases melatonin which makes you sleepy. In children, their circadian rhythm releases melatonin for those all-important naps. This is known as homeostatic sleep drive, where pressure builds up in their bodies, inciting sleep.
Expose your baby to natural daylight and involve them in your daily routine. When night falls, shield them from artificial lighting, which will delay the onset of sleep.
Interestingly, studies show that human and animal bodies regulate sleep and wakefulness through both circadian rhythms and the homeostatic sleep drive. The latter is the duration of wakefulness and how it influences our sleep drive.
The Homeostatic Sleep Drive
Feeling the need to rest and sleep is directed by our homeostatic sleep drive. As babies and children learn about the world, eat, and play, the sense of tiredness will build in their bodies; their inbuilt homeostatic sleep drive determines how much stimuli they can process before they start to feel sleepy. When your baby is very little, their homeostatic sleep drive functions at a high level, which is what causes them to nap frequently. As they get older, the circadian rhythm will naturally play a part in their sleep pattern.
Why Are Naps Essential For Your Baby?
Napping is essential for cognitive functions, learning and better emotional regulation. If someone tells you that skipping naps is OK, science proves them wrong. It’s well known that if naps are missed, your child can become irritable, withdrawn and anxious. It’s vital to encourage napping as part of your baby’s routine. If your baby becomes overtired, the energizing stress hormone cortisol can flood their body and prevent them from sleeping at night. Various studies show that babies and toddlers who nap regularly outperform their non-napping peers. Napping is a vital time for tissue regeneration and growth.
Are There Any Warning Signs Your Baby Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep?
Yes! Several warning signs will indicate your baby is getting tired and needs to sleep. These are some of the warning signs;
- A distinct lack of interest in people and the environment around them
- A propensity to look away from stimulating things
- Rubbing their eyes, pulling their ears and other hand-to-face gestures
- Fluttering eyelids
- Sudden limb movements
- Lack of interest in food and toys
- Showing a lower pain threshold
- Trouble feeding
- Extended bouts of crying
- Harder to wake up
- Not interested in food or toys
- Alternating periods of quiet and fussy behaviors
If you are struggling to find the right balance for your baby, I’m a certified sleep consultant, and I’m here to work with you and your baby to ensure the best night’s sleep for you both.
Contact me today to set up a consultation.
If your baby is struggling with sleep and you’re wanting to explore options to improve it, please use the link below to book a Free 15 minute discovery call with one of our team members. Louise and Hannah have helped over 1500 families in Singapore and beyond achieve improved sleep for their baby’s. And we’d love the opportunity to help you too!