Body clock is one of the most common topics of adults. This so called body clock is also known as circadian rhythms. This rhythm controls the sleep-awake cycle of a person by waking them up in the morning when it is daylight, and making them sleepy when night time comes. This phenomenon is due to the light which causes the human body to produce cortisol, a hormone that keeps the body alert and awake. Darkness on the other hand switches the melatonin on thus making the human body sleep and drowsy. Therefore, because of the light, most people have observed that more exposure to mobile phones during night time can interfere with sleepiness.
Babies on the other hand are born without the control of these hormones that controls the sleep not until his or her body starts to develop his own circadian rhythms when he or she reaches his first three months in the world. Therefore, your baby has a very unpredictable sleeping schedule which makes him or her not aware when he or she makes his daytime sleeping time and his night time playing time and with this, your baby’s whole sleep/awake cycle is completely disorganized.
According to research, a sleep usually lasts 30 minutes to 4 hours, however random. Your baby might sleep for an hour today but could sleep for two hours the day after. Another thing, babies spend a lot of their sleep cycle lesser in deep sleep and in active rapid eye movement or REM sleep. When the time comes, specifically after four weeks from being born, your baby can then sleep for around 14 hours out of 24 hours. However, in some cases, babies sleep as short as nine hours and some as long as 19 hours.
Newborns, as mentioned have an unorganized sleeping cycle and that is because they obviously have different sleeping patterns compared to adults. For adults, the sleep cycle is around 90 minutes. During this 90 minutes, they have a period of REM sleep which is the followed by deep sleep just before reverting to lighter REM sleep. This moment is where the human body decides to either wake up or go back to sleep. During the REM sleep, dreams occur and the brain activity is similar to when the human body is awake. During night time, REM is low but it becomes higher in the early hours of the morning. Newborns on the other hand have different sleeping pattern. When a baby falls asleep, they go directly to the REM state of sleeping which lasts for about 20 minutes. During this duration, they are prone to waking up again. After that period, the baby then falls into a deeper quiet sleep, and they are less likely to wake up. After 50 minutes of their initial sleep, they go back to the REM state and they could wake up or start another sleeping cycle. While adults spend around 20% of their sleep in the REM state, newborns spend as much as 75% of their daily sleep in this state which they are easily disturbed. This results then to a mix up of night and day of your newborn.
To help your baby gradually learn when it is day and night to avoid mixing the two and to have better sleep pattern, here are some tips.
- Daily Activities. Include your baby in your daily activities. Make them adapt to your routine rapidly so they can take on your rhythm. Keep your baby close by, chat with him or her from time to time about your daily tasks and activities. To be able to do this, baby wearing is very helpful.
- Sleep at Night Time. For the first few days, weeks of your baby, it is advised that you keep him or her close thus have his crib inside your room so you can quickly respond to the early feeding cues. This will help your newborn to be able to sleep at night time and not play.
- Let the Light In. Since your baby is still working on his or her body clock or circadian rhythm, you can help him by exposing him to natural light during the day. Thus a walk outside is absolutely good. Also, avoid dark rooms for naps, and keep the curtains and blinds open will all help. With this, your baby can then slowly differentiate day and night.
- Night-Time Ritual. There is no earliness in introducing your baby the awareness of what is day and night. After his or her dinner time, dim the lights and reduce household noise when possible. Activities that can mark the transition are giving a bath, baby massage then after, then a story or song, and lastly a bedtime feed.
As interrupted sleep is part of being a parent, there are always ways to help yourself get the sleep that you deserve without sacrificing your baby and this is one. Both you and your baby benefits from this process, so try it out now.