Here’s Why Your Child Will Never Sleep Through the Night
How many times have you wanted to punch somebody in the face when they ask is your baby sleeping through the night!??
We’re fixated with the idea that babies and young children should sleep through the night, and we really need to let go of it. That may sound weird coming from a Sleep Consultant!! I wouldn’t blame you at this point for assuming that I was bottom of the class at Sleep Trainer School, but bear with
me here, because it’s not as bad as it sounds.
There are many misconceptions about sleep training, and perhaps one of the biggest (well, apart from the one where we pocket your cash while your poor babes sob themselves to sleep) is that we get babies to sleep all the way through the night in one giant, uninterrupted sleep cycle. This is not only untrue, but it’s not even biologically possible. No one sleeps through the night- adults included. It feels as though we sleep through the night because we don’t generally remember waking or being in a light sleep during a sleep cycle. That’s because we have learned over time to go back to sleep quickly- and that’s the goal of sleep training.
A sleep cycle consists of four stages; light sleep, deep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and ????. At about the age of four months babies also develop these cycles, but they’re shorter- around 45 minutes compared to around 90 in adults. Although some babies do naturally go back to sleep after a cycle, many will wake up, which accounts for so much of parents’-and babies’-exhaustion. It is so natural for us to pick our babies up, feed or rock them to sleep. They love motion and are so used to it right from the womb. You often see parents our holding their baby in their arms bouncing up and down or swaying side to side, pushing the buggy back and forward just to get there little one to sleep. But what happens is that when these methods are used some babies struggle to link their sleep cycles and wake frequently in the night expecting to be rocked or fed back to sleep.
It’s pretty obvious why they wake, when you think about it. As adults, we are consciously aware of when and how long we need to sleep for. So if we wake during the night, we know right away it’s not time to get up and go straight back to sleep. Incidentally, this is also the reason why we wake up so many times if we have to get up early for a flight or a meeting- we are worried about missing our alarm and so every time we cycle into a light sleep we wake up in a panic!
Babies, on the other hand, have no idea that they’re supposed to sleep at a certain hour, and for a certain amount of time, so when they wake up they stay awake. When we sleep train, we’re using lots of gentle cues and tricks to help them understand that they need to sleep when it’s nighttime, and that if they wake up they need to go back to sleep. We are helping them to learn to settle through a sleep cycle. We are not raising their stress levels and we’re certainly not putting them at increased risk of SIDS. We’re just teaching them to sleep properly so that they’re well-rested and content throughout the day. And well-rested babies, as we all know, make for better-rested parents. Who wouldn’t want that?
So next time someone asks you if your child sleeps through the night, you can tell them that there’s no such thing!!!
Love Seema xxx