Sleep: understanding your rhythm


He's three months old and still doesn't sleep through the night... how do you make it happen!?!? Before trying anything it is important to understand your baby's sleep rhythm. Elise, our childcare auxiliary, will help us.


Sleep: understanding your rhythm

Is there a sleep instruction manual?

No, that would be far too easy... Understanding your child's sleep is not easy. Sometimes you get the impression that he doesn't sleep because he's agitated but in fact he does! Your child's sleep structure will change with age, reaching 6 years of age in a format comparable to that of an adult.

It should be known that a newborn knows 4 states: restless sleep, calm sleep, restless awakening (90% of the time) and calm awakening 10% (a few minutes). The sleep phase is a time when the baby repairs itself, integrates information and secretes the growth hormone that is fundamental for its development.

Can the baby already tell the difference between day and night?

At birth, the newborn already knows a rhythm of the day before and of the sleep he has discovered in his mother's womb. But it's not about the rhythm day and night. Acquiring the rhythm of sleep is thus new for him it will take several months to settle down, two three months approximately. At first, he'll wake up because he's hungry. You will be able to help him to make the difference between day and night thanks to the time donors to the rituals, to the alternation day/night. Making him sleep during the day even if there is light and a little noise will help him too.

How is a baby's night's sleep composed?

A night consists of several cycles and a cycle is a succession of sleep phases. At the end of each cycle, there is a transition phase. This famous transition phase would be explained by the history of our prehistoric ancestors, their brains were activated to check if their environment was safe if their brains did not feel danger then the night could continue and a cycle would resume, otherwise they would wake up. Well, for the newborn it's the same thing. 

Restless sleep: It will evolve and become in adults what we call REM sleep, we sleep but we move. If you observe well, your baby's toes may be moving he may have his eyes open, his body is quite relaxed and soft. His breathing is irregular and one can even see on his face one of the 6 fundamental emotions of joy, fear, disgust, anger, stupor and sadness. You know for example when he smiles and when he is sleeping.

Quiet sleep: He no longer moves but muscle tone is important his hands are close to his face, his legs are bent he is gathered and his face relaxed. 

And these sleep phases, how will they evolve?

Until 6 months, the baby falls asleep in restless sleep. The first month a baby will sleep 20 hours a day (obviously this is an average for information purposes the differences from one child to another are huge).

A cycle (restless and calm sleep) lasts 60 minutes so there are 18 to 20 cycles per 24 hours.

Then around 6 and 9 months, the restless sleep phase passes at the end of the cycle. Restless and calm sleep is reversed and calm will take over. Calm sleep becomes slow sleep.