How babies sleep and when parents can sleep: 6 facts and explanations

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An exhaust­ed face and bruis­es under the eyes are a clas­sic “bow” of young par­ents. It is even imi­tat­ed on Hal­loween: the cos­tume and make-up of the baby’s moth­er is easy to rec­og­nize. It is more dif­fi­cult to under­stand who coined and spread the expres­sion “sleep like a baby” in the sense of deep and serene. After all, in fact, they do not sleep at all! To alle­vi­ate sleep depri­va­tion (or get over it quick­ly and know that it will def­i­nite­ly end some­day), Healthy­in­fo tells how these babies sleep. Spoil­er: there is an unex­pect­ed sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion for their scream­ing at night.

Fact one: Babies only sleep for an hour.

Fact one: Babies only sleep for an hour.

In the norms for the first month of sleep, they write that chil­dren at this age sleep from 19 to 22 hours a day! This cute fact sets up inex­pe­ri­enced future par­ents for hap­py expec­ta­tion and mis­un­der­stand­ing why it can be dif­fi­cult with a new­born if he sleeps all the time?

And here’s the sur­prise: sleep in chil­dren is not at all the same as in adults. Dur­ing these 22 hours of sleep, they can wake up 22 times, and you with them. The fact is that the dura­tion of a com­plete sleep cycle in infants is less than an hour. And if by the end of this hour the child is hun­gry, cold, wet the dia­per, or sim­ply lost his moth­er, he wakes up and is indig­nant.

So they don’t do it on pur­pose, this, alas, is a fea­ture of age — often wak­ing up and scream­ing right there.

Fact two: deep sleep comes on more slowly

Our sleep is divid­ed into two phas­es: REM and non-REM sleep, or light and deep sleep. Nor­mal­ly, adults move from super­fi­cial to deep much faster than chil­dren. Babies need about 20 min­utes for the brain to stop respond­ing to small stim­uli.

It is for this rea­son that it is not pos­si­ble to imme­di­ate­ly trans­fer the child to bed after he has fall­en asleep — he opens his eyes and is indig­nant. To under­stand when the child fell asleep deeply, you need to watch him. In the REM phase, his eyes move under his eye­lids, his eye­lash­es trem­ble, he can smile, wince, and his hands will be tense.

In the phase of slow sleep, the body relax­es, becomes soft, breath­ing becomes even. Now you can shift and enjoy half an hour of silence.

In babies with mus­cle hyper­tonic­i­ty, pre­ma­tu­ri­ty, neu­ro­log­i­cal fea­tures with excitabil­i­ty, the deep sleep phase occurs even more slow­ly. And for this, even small devi­a­tions from the norm are enough, which then will pass on their own. But while they are, the child will not real­ly let the par­ents sleep.

Fact three: when a child sleeps poorly, his brain develops well

Yes, yes, in con­trast to the brain of an adult tired of night­ly cries. Although this is not about a lack of rest — it harms chil­dren in the same way, but about these long phas­es of shal­low sleep and fre­quent awak­en­ings. Dur­ing REM sleep, the blood sup­ply to the brain increas­es. Its activ­i­ty increas­es dra­mat­i­cal­ly, new neur­al con­nec­tions appear, it lit­er­al­ly grows.

All this helps the baby quick­ly learn new data, process infor­ma­tion about the world around him, and adapt to it as best as pos­si­ble.

Fact four: the concepts of “day” and “night” are only for adults so far

Fact one: Babies only sleep for an hour.

Although the inside of the abdomen was also some­times dark, some­times a soft pink-beige light made its way through the tis­sues, these changes in the time of day did not teach the baby any­thing. Their brains and endocrine sys­tems don’t know that day and night exist, so they don’t care when they’re awake or when they’re asleep.

It may seem to par­ents that this is not so, sim­ply because wake-up calls at night are remem­bered bet­ter than day­time chores. But that’s because babies do spend a lot of time sleep­ing at first. That’s when, after three to four months, the amount of sleep drops to 12–14 hours a day, there will be few­er night­time awak­en­ings. But still, 2–3 times to get up to the baby up to a year dur­ing the night is the aver­age norm for all young par­ents.

Fact!

Sci­en­tists with the help of blood tests have proven that both mater­nal and pater­nal instincts can come with time (pub­li­ca­tions in PNAS). In women, he wakes up ear­li­er only because they have to take care of the child even at the stage of preg­nan­cy.

But active hor­mon­al changes in the body occur when an adult takes the child in his arms, changes the dia­per, wash­es, puts him to bed. Then the hor­mones of attach­ment begin to be released. And the more often dad does this, the faster that parental instinct appears, grow­ing at a phys­i­o­log­i­cal lev­el.

In this arti­cle, we talked about the amaz­ing changes that occur in the body of fathers after the birth of a child. Although they were not preg­nant, but dad’s body reacts to the baby!

Fifth fact: even an established sleep pattern is disturbed

Even if the baby final­ly got used to him­self and accus­tomed adults to a tol­er­a­ble sleep sched­ule and night­ly wake-ups, every­thing can sud­den­ly change. Teething, ill­ness, fatigue, overex­ci­ta­tion, those same devel­op­men­tal leaps or anx­i­ety due to a long (already two hours!) Mom’s absence can dis­turb the peace of the night.

Don’t wor­ry, it will pass.

Fact!

By about six months, the child’s body begins to react more clear­ly to dark­ness and light, reg­u­lat­ing the pro­duc­tion of mela­tonin. There­fore, the same tricks work as with adults — sub­dued light when going to bed and bright sun in the morn­ing.

For this rea­son, sci­en­tists rec­om­mend stick­ing to a sleep sched­ule with pack­ing at the same time and do not advise trav­el­ing with chil­dren under five years of age to areas where the time is dif­fer­ent from the usu­al. It is pos­si­ble to shift the regime so seri­ous­ly that it will take a long time to return it.

Fact Six: Sleeping through the night is not normal for children

Fact Six: Sleeping through the night is not normal for children

Sleep­ing four to six hours dur­ing the night is a big achieve­ment for chil­dren, which can be expect­ed after six months, and even then not always. It is lit­er­al­ly the duty of babies to wake up more often than chil­dren of oth­er ages. And not to dri­ve the par­ents crazy.

In addi­tion to wak­ing peri­ods for eat­ing and explor­ing, chil­dren are forced to wake up due to dis­com­fort. Sen­si­tive skin and a quick reac­tion to changes in tem­per­a­ture, mois­ture in the dia­per, bow­el move­ments — the key to sur­vival.

More impor­tant­ly, the baby’s brain peri­od­i­cal­ly wakes him up to pre­vent sud­den infant death syn­drome.

It is inter­est­ing!

Renowned and respect­ed evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gist David Haig has come up with a new expla­na­tion for why babies cry at night. He sug­gests that they cry to dis­tract their moth­ers from their hus­band and pre­vent a pos­si­ble preg­nan­cy. Fre­quent night­time feed­ings delay a wom­an’s fer­til­i­ty and can speed up hor­mon­al changes that inhib­it ovu­la­tion.

Not all sci­en­tists are con­vinced that Haig is on the right track. Some argue that babies wake up at night for more basic needs such as food, water, or com­fort. Self-cry­ing can also be a cop­ing method that pre­vents the baby from sleep­ing too sound­ly, rather than a kind of con­tra­cep­tive.

But if Haig is right, the lit­tle scream­ers are doing every­thing to pre­vent the birth of anoth­er child and ruin their hap­py life. This self-inter­est is in direct con­flict with the evo­lu­tion­ary goal of moth­ers, which is to pass on their genes to as many chil­dren as pos­si­ble.

ai generated, child, moon
ai generated, baby, boss
ai generated, baby, boss
boy, night sky, dream
raccoon, garbage, trash can

It is impos­si­ble to go back to ancient times and test whether fre­quent night­feed­ing actu­al­ly helped babies sur­vive in the ear­ly stages of our evo­lu­tion­ary his­to­ry. Today’s chil­dren are grow­ing up in a world that bears lit­tle resem­blance to one in which this trick could be use­ful. “I think it’s an adap­ta­tion to a world that’s very dif­fer­ent from today,” says Haig. Con­tra­cep­tives, sup­ple­men­tal nutri­tion, and good health have like­ly elim­i­nat­ed the need to try to rule out new sib­lings. How­ev­er, they still cry at night!

Haig says this means that moth­ers can prob­a­bly relax a lit­tle and know that an incon­solable baby is not nec­es­sar­i­ly in despair. These cries and tears may just be behav­ioral relics from the past. With which, one way or anoth­er, one will have to come to terms — until human­i­ty evolves again.

By Yraa

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