Newborn sleep patterns, why newborns don’t sleep as often as parents would like.

The first twelve weeks of a newborns sleep pattern can be exhausting for first time parents. Sleep deprivation due to a newborn only sleeping for short periods of time is gruelling.

Newborn sleep cycles vs. adults

When a newborn first falls asleep, she enters into “active sleep.”  This is characterised by fluttering eyelids; relatively rapid, irregular breathing; occasional body movements; and noises such as grunts or brief cries. Newborns are different to adults as they sleep in short cycles, which can vary from 30 minutes- 4 hours. This may be due to the fact th

at newborns need to feed frequently. This restless sleep state is the newborn-equivalent of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in adults. Just as adults are more likely to awaken during REM, newborns are more likely to awaken during their active sleep.

Newborns may remain in this active sleep state for 25 minutes or more, after which they slip into a “quiet sleep.” Quiet sleep is characterized by slower, more rhythmic breathing, with little movement, and no eyelid fluttering. Newborns are less likely to wake up during their quiet sleep. Newborns spend at least 50% of their sleep time in active sleep whereas adults spend only 20% of their sleep time in REM.

Tips to help with newborns and sleep;

  1. Reduce stimulation at night.
  2. Expose your newborn to natural lighting patterns.
  3. Try infant massage.
  4. Breastfeed if possible.

Tips on how to keep your light sleeper from waking all the way up

  1. If your newborn falls asleep in your arms, move them when they are in quiet sleep, as they are less likely to awaken.
  2. Swaddling- may improve newborn sleep, as their arms won’t flay about causing them to wake up.
  3. Feed well before baby goes to sleep.
  4. Sleep and rest when your baby sleeps.
  5. Breastfeed if you can.

It won’t be long before your newborns sleep patterns improve, persistence and patience is the key.