Inside the Cot: Sleep for Newborns

5th March 2021 | Sleep & Customer Satisfaction
Baby sleeping

Newborn babies spend more time asleep than awake. For new parents, it’s common to look at your little bundle of joy and wonder what’s happening behind those closed eyes, as well as when they might grow out of their newborn sleeping pattern so you can get your full night’s rest again.

In this article, TEMPUR® takes a dive into sleep for babies, answering all the questions you may have as new parents.

Is My Newborn Sleeping Too Much?

Newborn babies are almost never sleeping too much. The amount of sleep newborns require varies between babies, meaning you can expect them to sleep for anything between eight to 18 hours per day.

Newborns will often wake up because they are hungry, which makes it common for them not to sleep the whole night through. Their sleep will usually be accrued through short chunks of rest throughout the day and night, rather than all in one go.

When Will My Baby Start to Sleep Through the Night?

Adult sleep patterns are governed by circadian rhythms – an internal clock that responds to light and other stimuli to control tiredness. Newborns’ sleep patterns are so different because they have previously relied on signals from their mother’s body to tell them when to sleep and haven’t yet developed their own circadian rhythms. It takes time for them to learn these rhythms, meaning babies’ sleep can be disrupted and unpredictable in their early months.

Babies tend to have developed these rhythms by the time they reach three to six months of age. They will usually then begin to rest more at night, with some starting to sleep for the full eight hours.

How Can I Get My Newborn to Sleep More at Night?

One of the most common struggles faced by new parents, there are some things you can try to encourage your baby to sleep more at night and assist the development of their circadian rhythm.

1.    Ensure you properly demarcate the day and night for your little one

Keep curtains open throughout the day to let in sunlight and leave on the radio or television, so that your house feels lively. At night, keep the baby’s room dark and try to minimise noise, so that they find it easier to sleep at this time.

2.    Feed your baby a larger meal before bed than in the day

Food can help to make your newborn feel sleepier and mean that they might sleep for a longer period.

3.    Try an infant massage

Just like it is for adults, massage can be very soothing for babies. Some parents have found that massaging your baby with lotion before bedtime can result in them sleeping longer and waking less often.

How Important is Sleep to Newborns?

Although scientists still can’t say for certain why people sleep, it is vitally important. Deeply connected to memory and learning, sleep is crucial to brain development. The growth occurring every day in a newborn’s brain means that sleep is even more important to them.

The rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep is when the body is most relaxed and the brain active. This is the stage when humans dream, and it is therefore the most connected to brain development.

Whilst adults spend approximately 20% of their time asleep in the REM stage, newborns spend around 50% in it. This is a huge difference and indicates how much important growth and activity is happening in your little one’s head when they sleep.

How Can Parents Sleep with a Newborn?

The sleep pattern of newborns means that new parents frequently struggle to attain the right amount of rest. It can be hard to feel you’re doing your best as a parent if you’re tired all the time. Try some of these tips so you can feel more rejuvenated and ready to care for your little one:

·        Sleep on a high-quality mattress that provides support and comfort

·        Embrace naps – even if you can’t fall into a deep sleep, closing your eyes and resting can still be restorative

·        Ask for and accept help from others – this could be a partner, family or friends

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