Baby Sleep Cycles

Does a small child’s sleep resemble that of an adult?

Often turbulent, sometimes very profound and always fragmented, that infant sleep has nothing to do with ours. “Especially in the first year of life, small children have very specific sleep patterns that differ greatly from those of adults,” says the sleep specialist. But after the first year, the child’s sleep, cycles, and rhythm will begin to mimic that of the adult. “From the age of 3, the child acquires a sleep similar to ours, with at least 6 to 7 consecutive cycles of about 90 minutes: light sleep, deep sleep, and finally paradoxical sleep,” recalls Dr. Ellaffi.

What are the baby’s sleep stages and how long do they last?

The infant has periods of sleep of about 3 to 4 hours interspersed with periods of wakefulness. His Cycles are quite shortsince they last from 40 to 50 minutes and are divided into just two phases: the restless sleep phases and the restless sleep phases. With each new cycle, the baby has micro-awakenings during which he is restless but remains sleepy: it is then advisable not to hold him immediately to see if he falls asleep again on his own.

Why is the baby often restless when sleeping?

In addition to the phases of micro-awakening, in which the baby no longer really sleeps and can become restless, its sleep is divided into two phases: the phases of peaceful sleep and those of restless sleep. As the sleep specialist explains:

“It’s estimated that restless sleep phases account for 60% of a baby’s sleep time, compared to just 40% for restless sleep phases to begin with.”

Hence the impression that the baby is often half asleep or even wakes up, although in fact he is asleep. Restless sleep in babies is the precursor to REM sleep in adultsSo the sleep phase in which he dreams. Restless sleep phases are therefore common in young children and it is important to let them sleep without disturbing them and without believing that they are waking up.

Ultradian and Circadian Cycle: What’s the Difference?

Another fundamental difference between a baby’s sleep and that of an adult is its rhythm. If that Adults have circadian sleep rhythm with 24-hour sleep-wake cycles that are largely influenced by light and by numerous biological and physiological mechanisms, Babies have a said rhythmultradia.

“The baby is not set to day and night, but continues the rhythm it had in the mother’s womb,” explains Dr. Ellaffi. He sleeps in cycles of 3 to 4 hours, interrupted by periods of wakefulness. These stages of awakening allow him to feed regularly to ensure his good growth and development. “Little by little, we help the baby transition from ultradian rhythm to ultradian rhythm circadian rhythm around 2 to 3 months on average‘ says the sleep specialist.

How long does a newborn 1 year old 3 year old baby sleep?

Small children have a very high need for sleep, because while they are in Morpheus’ arms, they release a maximum of hormones that are necessary for their growth. However, as with adults, there are differences and while some babies need plenty of sleep, others will thrive on less without affecting their proper development.

On average, these are babies’ sleep needs by their age:

  • Between 0 and 3 months : Toddlers can sleep from 11 hours a day until 7 p.m., with an average of 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Around 1 a : The baby sleeps on average 11 to 14 hours a day,
  • Between 3 and 5 years : small children sleep between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m

What sleep rhythm between 0 and 3 years?

The baby’s sleep pattern changes between birth and 3 years of age to approximate that of adults between 4 and 5 years of age.

  • The first three months of life : The baby has not yet reached the circadian cycle and sleeps indiscriminately day and night, following their sleep cycles.
  • Approximately between 4 and 12 months : the baby begins to take a regular rhythm, with 3 naps in addition to his night. “The baby takes one nap in the morning, a second one in the afternoon, and a last one at the end of the day,” explains Dr. Elaffi.
  • From about a year : Babies are going to 2 naps and eliminate the siesta at the end of the day,
  • Between two and three years : The baby no longer sleeps in the morning and only holdsa nap Afternoon, which is also the only one offered at the school entrance.
  • Then, about 4 to 5 years On average, the child no longer needs a nap and is completely based on the rhythm of the adult, of course with higher sleeping time requirements.

How to chain baby’s sleep cycles and when does he sleep?

That’s the big question for exhausted parents, not being able to sleep more than 3-4 hours at a time to recover. However, it should be noted that the Nocturnal awakenings in infantsin the first months of life are essentialbecause they allow him to eat to provide your body with the nutrients and calories it needs to grow well.

It is onlyfrom 4 months that the baby is ready to “sleep in” : namely to chain 5 to 6 hours of sleep between 11pm and 8am. At around 4 months, around 3 out of 4 children “sleep” at night, from 10 months it is 90%. The difficulty for the mother is often to help her child fall back asleep quickly after the night’s feeding. “It’s important that he learns to go back to sleep on his own, so he’ll gradually stop waking up his mother during his micro-awakening,” the sleep specialist emphasizes.

What is a “sleep train”?

The sleep train is a metaphor depicting the cyclical aspect of sleep involving a wagon and its locomotives.
“The locomotive symbolizes the moment of falling asleep, then each car represents a sleep phase,” explains the specialist. One car for the baby’s deep or restless phase and one for the adult’s light, deep and paradoxical phase. The set of two or three wagons corresponding to a sleep cycle symbolized by the train. Each train is separated by micro alarm clocks during which the child either wakes up completely or reverts to a new sleep pattern.

“And if the child misses the train’s departure, they have to wait for the next one to fall asleep,” explains Dr. Ellaffi. This often happens when the baby seems exhausted and upset but is unable to fall asleep. “It is therefore importantwatch for signs of sleep with the child so as not to miss his turn: as soon as he rubs his eyes and yawns, we start the bedtime ritual,” she continues.

Sleep Disorders in Babies: When to Worry?

A baby who has trouble falling asleep or wakes up often: that’s the classic. But when can we start talking about and worrying about sleep disorders?

“Insomnia-type sleep disorders are very rare in infants, they usually appear around the age of 2 to 3 years, with school and the onset of anxiety,” explains Dr. Ellaffi.

However, there are other factors that can disrupt baby’s sleep and it is important to recognize them and not trivialize them. “We can start asking ourselves questions if there are any many nocturnal awakeningss and when the baby still wakes up at night after 9 months,” states the sleep specialist.

The possible causes are then diverse: gastroesophageal reflux, allergies with nasal congestion and breathing difficulties, but also sleep apnea.Sleep apnea affects at least 2-5% of children : So it’s not as rare as you might think,” emphasizes the specialist. If in doubt, look for the symptoms: the child drools at night, sleeps with his mouth open, moves a lot, sweats, night terrors, grinding his teeth, nightmares… These are just some of the possible symptoms of sleep apnea.

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