A newborn baby spends his time sleeping
throughout the day and night. Find out about the sleep cycle and sleep patterns
of a newborn.
A newborn baby does not do much apart
from sleeping throughout the day and night, in most cases. On an average, they
wake up for feedings every few hours. New parents thus, often fall into a
dilemma on whether their newborn is getting enough sleep or is sleeping too
much. They also get confused about their sleep
pattern as they do not seem to maintain a
routine one. Very often, the schedule turns out such that the newborn sleeps throughout the day and wakes up to stay awake for
the entire night!
What Ought to Be the Sleep Pattern
of a Newborn?
Usually a newborn is expected to
sleep for eight to nine hours during the day and approximately eight hours
during the night. Most newborns do not actually sleep for six to eight hours at
a stretch throughout the night. They wake up for a number of times in between
and this routine continues till the newborn is usually three months old. This
habit also stops when the baby attains the weight of 12-13 pounds.
What Makes the Baby Wake Up Every
Now and Then?
Newborns have a tiny stomach and they
can take their food only in small quantities. This is why they wake up every
three to four hours to fill their stomach. Parents need to take note that
unless your paediatrician advises otherwise; it is not required of you to wake
up your little one in the middle of his sleep. However, this is also important
that you should not let the baby stay asleep for over five hours at a stretch for the
initial five to six weeks. In some cases if the baby happens to be born
premature it is necessary to wake him up for a frequent feeding every couple of hours. In any case, it is always
advisable to consult and act according to the directives given by the paediatrician.
The Sleeping States of a Newborn
Just like adults the stage and depth of sleep varies in the newborns
too. You may find the baby moving actively or lying quite still depending on
which stage he is in at the moment. Basically, during the final trimester of
the pregnancy, the sleeping pattern gets devised in the baby. The stages are:
REM or the Rapid Eye Movement Sleep â€“ In
this stage the eye movements are found to be rapid and there is a swift back
and forth movement. This is the light sleep and dream stage. On an average,
newborn babies regularly spend sixteen hours for sleeping. 50%n of this
duration is REM sleep. As they grow older, the amount of this REM sleep
Non-REM Sleep â€“ This stage is further
divided into four separate categories:
- Stage 1 â€“ This is categorised by mild to extreme drowsiness. You will find that the baby is continuously opening and closing his eyes, his eyelids droop and he begins to doze off every now and then.
- Stage 2 â€“ This is the stage of light sleep. His actions become slower, he does not move around too much and stays quiet for a while and will get startled if there is a sound.
- Stage 3 â€“ This is the deep sleep stage where the babyâ€™s movement becomes little to no movement. He becomes quiet.
- Stage 4 â€“ This is the very deep sleep stage. There is simply no movement and the baby sleeps in peace.
The Sleep Pattern
The sleep cycle commences with stage 1 and then it gradually
advances to stage 2, 3 and 4, and then trace back to 4, 3, 2 and finally to the
REM stage. The cycle can get repeated during a single session of sleep. In the
initial stage or the first few months, parents will note that the babies wake
up completely as they make their transition from deep to light sleep and then
pass on to continue with the cycle. It is also noticed that some babies find it
difficult to resume the cycle once they wake up. This is of course until they
are able to form a regular sleep pattern.
Finally, the points to note regarding the sleep pattern of your
newborn are to look out for signs and be very observant. If you find that the
baby has an undisturbed and consistent sleep and wake up all of a sudden, there
is a possibility of ear infection. Report this behaviour to the paediatrician
and get the baby examined well. It can also be that the babyâ€™s system is simply
over-stimulated and this is the sole reason for his sudden awakening. This can
be a simple mark of his growing up process. Another point that you must take
care of is that, put your baby to sleep with his feeding
bottle stuck to his mouth. This is dangerous and can lead to choking and