The Real Reason Your Kid Wakes Up At Night
During pregnancy, the number one question on our minds was when exactly the baby would sleep long enough for us to not feel like zombies. Why every parent on planet earth shares in this great conspiracy to new or expectant parents is a mystery only Scooby Doo himself can unravel. However, we all seem to share in that lie, that babies sleep through the night. But what’s the real reason your kid wakes up at night?
We walk into parenthood with a loose set of expectations that our newborn will sleep… Then maybe they’ll sleep as a toddler… Okay, the preschooler will *for sure* stop waking up. Until we finally succumb to a caffeine addiction and sleep deprivation.
Here’s a little insight to why they aren’t sleeping:
You’re On Different Cycles
Adults typically have sleep cycles that last ninety minutes (moving into a deep sleep and resulting in rapid eye movement), and we can go from one stage to the other without waking up. Whereas a baby will only have a sleep cycle that lasts around forty five minutes, and wake up after each one. It’s where we coined the phrase “learning to self soothe”, that they learn how to go through the cycles gently without waking up too much, and eventually not waking up at all.
Why Does This Happen? It’s evolution. It’s how they alert parents or caretakers to any changes in their environment, such as soiled diapers, hunger, a serious compromise of their safety such as an airway obstruction, or simply because they are missing you and need you close to them. Waking up during sleep cycles is a way their body protects them against SIDS/Cot Death.
We have had a long time to set a routine for ourselves, getting up in the mornings, going to bed in the evenings, or whatever your schedule may be. This brand new tiny human has zero concept of what schedule they should be on for the first four months after birth, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change that chemistry. The human homeostatic sleep drive starts early in the day and propels us towards sleep at night (and makes us sleepy in the afternoon!). This homeostatic sleep drive is a biological process which counteracts the circadian alerting system which works to keep us awake.
When your child’s homeostatic sleep drive meets the circadian alerting system towards the end of the day, your child enters a ”sleep: impossible” zone. This explains their “second wind”, the bouncy wind-up at bedtime wind-down! We often seek to repress this bedtime energy, but it’s more helpful to go with the flow and allow sleep to happen when it is, at least, biologically possible.
Your child’s body clock will eventually stabilize around the age of five — until then, sleep when you can and enjoy this very unique stage in your life!
RELATED: MILLION DOLLAR BABY GADGETS
At birth, our brains are only developing, and have reached about 25% of growth. The rest of the growth continues in the first few years of life, and this is why everyone says that kids’ brains are sponges. Frequent night-time nursing and the essential fatty-acids it provides helps build an extraordinary number of synaptic pathways.
However, it’s not just their brains that are growing, they have to learn everything else also; moving with purpose, babbling, fine motor skills, etc. and all of this takes energy in the form of foods, with increasing night feeds.
Simultaneously, they being to differentiate between shadowy figures in the dark and their caregivers, leading to separation anxiety, which can occur at nighttime when you’re trying to get some shut eye. It doesn’t mean anything negative, it is just another normal part of development.
Does Sleep Training Work?
Babies follow their own natural and neurologically-appropriate drive towards sleep. Waking as evolution has taught them, and sleeping when they are comfortable and developmentally able to sleep through the entire night. Parents, who are desperate for a decent night’s sleep, might try to control the patterns of a child sleep. However, we can not control it; it may leave us as exhausted as before, and possibly more frustrated that we have failed at sleep training.
Controlled crying might leave your baby exhausted, however, that does not equate to them being peaceful. Children crying is a way to sound the alarm that something is wrong, and the caregivers need to take action. It might be as simple as a hug, or a soiled diaper. Yet it causes us emotional distress.
Many parents now believe that sleep training could be damaging and breaks the child’s innate trust in their caregivers’ willingness to respond to them. Nature takes care of things within an environment of love, support, and encouragement, and independence will blossom when trust is nurtured.
Tags: sleep training, sleeping schedule for babies, waking up at night, when will our baby sleep through the night, why do babies keep waking up all the time