Sleep Advice from A Doula

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Many parents struggle with understanding their baby’s sleep but understanding ideal sleep atmospheres and a baby’s sleep patterns is much more beneficial.

Ensuring your baby is sleeping in an ideal environment conducive to sleep is a simple and very effective way to help your baby sleep better and longer. Black out curtains will help increase melatonin levels which are our natural sleep hormones. The use of a soft night light is also recommended but try to stay away from any blue lights as blue lights will reduce the melatonin hormone. Ensuring that your room temperature is between 18-22 degrees is ideal for safety and comfort for your baby. And finally the use of white noise will help minimize disruptions and help baby fall back to sleep easier.

Babies have sleep cycles which last approximately 45 minutes to an hour. This cycle is divided into 2 parts. The first half of their sleep cycle is active sleep where they may be moving around more, opening and closing their eyes more and even making noises. The second half of the sleep cycle is the deep sleep where baby is very still and quiet. Once baby comes out of this deep sleep they move right into their active sleep cycle and this is when most parents think their baby is waking up and pick them up out of their sleep. What’s crucial to understand is that your baby coming out of the deep state doesn’t mean he is done sleeping, this just means he needs to move back into the next. You can help him do this by shushing, patting, singing and encouraging him to go into the next cycle.

The other important fact to help you understand a baby’s sleep pattern is that babies have a bigger stretch of sleep at the beginning of the night and then tend to wake up more regularly after that big stretch. This is called their Core Night Sleep. In fact, we all have it even as adults. When your baby wakes up from this Core Night Sleep, it is common for them to wake more regularly but this is why I often encourage parents to match their baby’s start of the core night with their own. If your baby’s core night is from 7pm-12am and a parent has their core night from 10pm-5am, the hourly wakes that baby has from midnight onwards will be smack in the middle of the parent’s core night and studies have shown that when we are awoken often within our core night, we feel even less rested in the morning. Therefore try to align baby’s core night with your own so that you will feel more rested even with less hours of sleep because your core night will not be disrupted as much. As your baby gets older and starts sleeping longer stretches, you can then move your bedtime earlier and earlier.

Understanding a baby’s sleep also means understanding circadian rhythms which is our internal clock. In order to set this clock, your body needs to do the same thing at the same time every day and this is why schedule is so important. Once breastfeeding is established, it’s a good idea to start a feeding and sleeping schedule and try to stick with it from one day to the next. This will help set your baby’s internal clock so that not only will he have a harder time resisting sleeps but he will crave it!

These are just a few tips to help new parents establish good sleep habits early on. When sleep habits are affecting a parents or child’s mental and physical health, reaching out to a professional like the Babeez sleep consultants can help facilitate better sleep habits, patterns and routines and ultimately help the entire family sleep better! 

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