“You should appreciate your peaceful night sleeps while you can!” … “You know babies are easier to look after ‘in’ than ‘out’!” … “You’ll be falling asleep at 8 o’clock out of shear exhaustion, you know – no more late nights for you for a long while”.
Let’s face it, probably the most insidious part of being a new Parent (primarily a new Mummy), is the reality that it can be a jolly long time until you will be able to relish eight hours of uninterrupted sleep again. Certainly, Sleep Deprivation must rate as one of the most challenging difficulties for the majority of new mothers.
You see, when you are woken from an uncompleted ‘sleep cycle’, and then go back to sleep, the cycle begins all over again from the beginning. So it is very possible to be having say five 2-hour naps over a 24 hour period – but still be REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep-deprived. And depriving human-beings of REM-sleep is recognized as an effective form of torture. Your body goes completely out of equilibrium, heavily due to the homeostatic imbalance within your brain’s neuro-transmitters. You can’t think straight, you’re unable to concentrate, you feel despondent, your body easily becomes unwell – in fact you can even be an unsafe driver!
It is no understatement to realise, that learning how to teach your new baby to be a good sleeper, can pay huge rewarding dividends to you and your household – and to your baby, as scientific correlations are being made between children’s intelligence and their sleep patterns.
However, the subject of parents directing infant sleep habits is a topic rife with controversy and oozing with “expert” opinions. But a good first place to start is to have a clear-ish understanding of how much sleep is “Normal” (bearing in mind that the only one thing we can truly name as “Normal” is a cycle on a Washing Machine).
- Newborn: About 16-20 hours (say 6-8 sleeps of 2-3 hours).
- 4-6 Week Old: About 16-20 hours (say 4-6 day-sleeps of 2-2½ hours, and evening sleep of about 5-6 hours, eg 10pm-4am).
- 2-3 Month Old: About 15-19 hours (say 3-4 day-sleeps of 2-3 hours, and evening sleep of about 7-8 hours, eg 10pm-6am).
- 3-4 Month Old: About 15-18 hours (say 3 day-sleeps of 2-2½ hours, and overnight sleep of about 9-11 hours, eg 8pm-6am).
- 4-6 Month Old: About 15-17 hours (say 2-3 day-sleeps of 1½-2½ hours, and overnight sleep of about 10-12 hours, eg 7pm-6am).
- 6-8 Month Old: About 15-16 hours (say morning & afternoon day-sleeps of 2-2½ hours, and overnight sleep of about 10-12 hours).
- 9-12 Month Old: About 14-15 hours (say morning & afternoon day sleeps of 1½-2 hours, and overnight sleep of about 11-12 hours, eg 7pm-7am).
The topic of Infant Sleep philosophies is an area where you will need to make some black and white decisions, based on information mostly in shades of gray. And the bad news is, that you will be needing to repeat that process on hundreds or even thousands of parenting decisions as your wee sweet little darling grows. Our lives are so complicated these days by data asphyxiation, that parenting instincts can be left paralyzed by the overload of opposing information!