Bringing home a new baby from the hospital is an exciting yet frightening experience as new parents begin to discover just how challenging it can be to work around a newborn’s sleep schedule. Although newborns tend to sleep about 18 hours a day, it can be hard for a parent to feel rested when they are contending with frequent night feeding and waking. To help new parents adjust to their newborn’s sleep schedule, the following guide to newborn sleep habits is offered as well as some solutions for getting a good night’s sleep.
Shorter Sleep Cycles
Newborns experience shorter sleep cycles than adults. When a newborn first falls asleep, they enter immediately into the active stage of sleep. During this stage, new parents may witness their newborn smiling, twitching and even squeaking. Shortly after the active stage, newborns will fall into a calm stage of sleep in which they receive their deepest rest. This is the stage when it is best to lay a baby down in their sleeping area. It is also helpful to know that babies spend more time in the active stage of sleep which increases their odds of waking up to any little sound. This serves as protection for newborns as it helps them to stay alert to changes in their environment.
Soothing to Sleep
As adults, most people have developed sleep rituals such as changing into pajamas and dimming the lights. Newborns, however, have entered the world completely unaware of the rhythms that most people follow. Until they adjust to the circadian rhythms, they may need to be soothed to sleep. Parents can help their child to develop their own sleep ritual by singing the same song each night, rocking them or offering a soother. Eventually, a newborn will begin to fall into the habit of going to sleep on their own.
Surviving Newborn Sleep Habits
During the first several weeks after bringing a newborn home, many new parents live in a cloudy haze of sleep deprivation. While this makes for an interesting joke among new parents, this does not have to be a person’s reality. To survive this stage in a person’s newborn’s life, it is important to rest whenever the baby is sleeping. Additionally, parents might alternate waking with the baby so that each person gets several hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Finally, it is important to know that this stage only lasts for a short period of time. Although a parent should expect a baby to wake up occasionally during the night throughout their first year, these episodes will slowly decrease as a baby moves out of the newborn period.