Sleep is serious business. If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial, from the point of view of the United States of America Department of the Army. A major point, emphasized by the Army, is that more sleep produces more benefits for Soldiers. Also, more sleep produces more benefits for children. Even small amounts of extra sleep help Blog Post 6. At every age!
Another point made by the Army Blog Post 5 is that “Soldiers [Children] best accomplish sleep extension [more sleep] by going to bed earlier.” The Army is clear about who is in charge: “Planning for sleep is a leader [Parent] competency”
In addition, “Leaders [Parents] also ensure that the sleep-wake schedule conforms as closely as possible to the brain’s natural circadian rhythm to optimize both duration and quality of sleep. Adequate performance is best achieved by Soldiers [Children] who consistently get adequate sleep on a nighttime sleep-daytime wakefulness schedule aligned with the brain’s natural circadian rhythm of alertness [or Sleep]. Both sleep duration and sleep continuity [Consolidation] are maintained on such schedules.” Further, “The human brain is biologically hard-wired to be alert during the daylight hours and asleep during the nighttime. Because of this, poor quality sleep results from night shift work [Late bedtimes or staying up late for schoolwork or social activities] even when the shift worker spends adequate time in bed during the daytime. Although such a schedule is unnatural for the human brain, some adaptation to a nighttime-awake and daytime-sleep schedule does occur over time, such adaptation is never complete. Soldiers [Children] always pay a cost in their waking performance and daytime sleep quality.”
An early bedtime may prevent baby and child sleep problems from developing in the first place. Even just a slightly earlier bedtime alone might completely or partially solve a sleep problem Blog Post 6 and Blog Post 7. An early bedtime might be especially beneficial because it is more aligned with the brain’s natural circadian rhythm. When the sleep period occurs may be as important, or more important, than how long is the sleep duration.
The brain automatically alternates between wake and sleep outputs. This is an automatic process over which we have no control. The ancient and powerful force behind this biological process is the rotation of the earth on its axis creating day and night. As the earth rotates, dawn occurs. First, as the sun approaches the horizon, dawn starts with only enough light to cause faint stars to disappear (astronomical dawn). Second, the sun is close enough to the horizon so that sailors can distinguish the horizon at sea (nautical dawn) but it is still quite dark. Third, as the sun approaches the horizon, there is enough light to see objects for outdoor activities (civil dawn). These three phases of dawn are called twilight. Next occurs sunrise and the start of the day. At the end of the day, as the sun dips below the horizon at sunset, twilight occurs again. The process is reversed and the same three phases of dusk occur, followed by night.
Like twilight (not fully day and not fully night), the drowsy state is an in-between state: not fully awake and not fully asleep. Also, like twilight, the drowsy period has a transition with a beginning and an end. Begin to put your baby to sleep as your baby starts to become drowsy. The brains in babies and young children also have drowsy periods followed by sleep during the day (naps). Healthy sleep occurs when the sleep is in synchrony with the occurrence of the brain’s output for sleep both during the day and night.
When you put your well-rested baby to sleep at the beginning of the drowsy period, because the baby’s brain is naturally drifting into a sleep state:
If your baby is over-tired because of a too late bedtime or naps not occurring in synch with daytime brain outputs for sleep:
The sleep solution is to move the bedtime earlier; just a few extra minutes of nighttime sleep makes a big impact Blog Post 6 and Blog Post 7. And watch for drowsy signs Blog Post 9 during the day for naps and in the evening for night sleep, which signals you to start soothing your child to sleep for a nap or for the night.
My almost 5 month old still wakes up to eat 3 times a night. He used to wake up the first time not until 9/930. Now he has been waking up in the 8s. We did just travel a few weeks ago, so he might still be a little off, but I’m not sure that’s it. I wanted to train him to wake up only 2 times a night and to start by pushing off his first wake up time to sleep until at least 10 pm and then slowly later. Does that make sense? I tried letting him cry and didn’t go into him at all (extinction?) for 5 nights in a row, and he is still waking up way before 10 pm. I’m not sure what to do or if I have to try something different. He falls asleep completely unassisted. He doesn’t even use a pacifier (he sucks his thumb). I put him to sleep awake and he goes to sleep on his own.
What have you read about his sleep?
Please describe his day sleep pattern, how he looks at 4-5pm, his bedtime and bedtime routine, the duration and type of night feeding, the wake-up time, and the role of the father.
he is pretty happy around 4-5 pm, even when he hasn’t napped in a couple hours. his bed time is usually around 6, sometimes a few minutes before or after depending on when his last nap was. he nurses at night. he’s a pretty fast nurser so he usually is back asleep within 20 minutes or so. he wakes up around midnight (after that 9 something feeding) and then around 3 something. Or it will be around 1 something am then 4 something. he has been waking up around 7 am, but sometimes earlier. my husband is around to help if i need, but i don’t do bottles.
even if he falls asleep nursing in the middle of the night, he still ends up waking up when i put him back in his crib. and he’ll talk to himself for a few minutes and then go back to sleep
Sorry i forgot to mention his day sleep pattern. i try to hold him off until close to 9 for his morning nap. sometimes he only makes it until 830 or so. he sometimes only naps for around 45 minutes, but he has also napped for an hour and a bit. then i put him back to sleep around an hour and a half after waking up because he usually seems like he’s getting tired. his second nap recently has been longer some days. around 2 hours. but again, it can also be 45 minutes. he often won’t take that last nap toward the later part of the day around 345/4. he’ll just relax in his crib and not cry, but also not sleep
In general, at 5 months of age, nursing your baby around 6, 9, 12 and 3 overnight suggests that breast milk supply might not be quite adequate or some non-nutritive nursing is occurring. Another clue is that for nutritive nursing only, 20 minutes is more than ample. In either case, please share your thoughts with me, and if appropriate, your child-care provider or lactation consultant.
Also, what have you read about your child’s sleep?
Thank you. What do you mean by “read” about my child’s sleep?
Books, Blogs, etc.
I use your book, I have read some of your blog posts, and I’ve also just searched some things on the internet