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Why do newborns sleep so much?
At the very beginning we have to answer the question: why do newborns and babies sleep so much?
First, this is because sleep is a state of the body in which it rests, and rest after coming into the world is absolutely necessary. Let's think about this: for 9 months your child was in the most comfortable place in the world - your uterus. He was warm, soft and comfortable there, and in addition, because of the all inclusive package, the food was galore, and he could spend his free time napping or splashing in the water. Protected from the dangers of the external environment, seated in the dim light under his mother's heart, stroked and endowed with a tender word, he felt perfect there until ... childbirth.
Probably not many of us realize how stressful an event is for a child to be born. Suddenly, it has to come across a lot of new, previously unknown stimuli coming from the new environment. And although there is nothing to fear, because all this stress is programmed by mother nature and helps during childbirth and adaptation to the new environment, we must bear in mind that this is considerable effort and energy expenditure for such a toddler.
To get the most out of all adaptive mechanisms and acclimatize in our world, a child needs two things: sleep and eat. During sleep, all unnecessary and just learned functions can be turned off, so that the newborn can relax and rest. His muscles relax and many life processes slow down, thanks to which both the mind and body rest.
Sleep is also needed for growth and development- it is then that the largest amounts of growth hormone responsible for these processes are secreted, which means that children during this period grow extremely fast and develop better. It also affects adequate weight gain and the development and function of the endocrine system.
Sleep also stimulates the toddler's immune system to multiply immune cells, which has a significant impact on the child's health, because it protects the body against infections.
How much should a newborn sleep?
Since we already know why newborns sleep so much, one should ask how much they should sleep properly during this period. There is one answer - as much as they want and how much they need. At such an early stage in life, both the rhythm and the amount of sleep are determined on the one hand by the need for rest, and on the other thirst for food.
Hunger is the factor that wakes up a newborn baby and determines the length of his sleep. And because initially the baby's stomach is so tiny that it can hold only a few milliliters of food (i.e. a small syringe), it must be fed very often. Despite this, sleep takes him much of the day and reaches 17-20 hours a day. As the baby develops, the newborn will take in larger and larger portions of food at more regular intervals, and his sleep need will decrease. At this stage of life, however, it is worth trying to interfere as little as possible with the body's natural rhythm of sleep and wakefulness, thus providing it with the best possible conditions for development.
How much sleep does an infant need?
After the first month of life, the child is already somewhat more adapted to the new environment, thanks to which, day by day, his rhythm of sleep and wakefulness will become more regular. Although at the beginning of the infancy it will still be conditioned by the need to provide food, the baby will slowly be more and more interested in something other than just sleep and eating.
The nervous system has become a little familiar with new stimuli and can now improve their recognition and categorization. That's why the baby becomes more sensitive to touch, temperature and various types of sounds reaching the environment, which until now were ignored at the neonatal stage. It will still sleep around 16-17 hours a day, however, it will be more sensitive to stimuli from the external environment, including the intensity of light in the room. Therefore, most of his sleep time will begin fall at night, while during the day you will still need several hours of sleep (6-7) divided into a few naps.
During third month of life babies usually need it about 15-16 hours of sleep. During this period, some of the children can sleep at night for up to 8 hours continuously, which also significantly improves the sleep comfort of parents. During the day they usually take only three naps with a total time of up to 5 hours.
Fourth and fifth month of lifebrings another reduction in the child's total sleep time per day. However, the night phase is again extended, during which time children usually sleep about 11 hours with fewer and fewer wakes. During the day, they need to supplement the deficiency of about 4 hours of sleep during three naps.
Optimal sleep time for half-yearly toddler is up to 15 hours a day, of which, by mastering the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness based on the night and day pattern, most sleep at night. Often children of this age can sleep through the night without waking up. During the day, they usually take three naps for about an hour. Such a daily schedule is improved up to the 9th month.
9 months of age again brings a reduction in sleep time to a total of 14 hours, of which there are only 3 hours of sleep per day during two naps. Paradoxically, during this period of life a child may have trouble falling asleep and wake up at night more often than before, for which the so-called separation anxiety. This mechanism persists until 12 month old toddler, when the total sleep time is the same, but the nap time of the day begins to shorten even more.
Now that we know why our little ones sleep so much, it's easier for us to understand the mechanisms of their own daily rhythms. It should be emphasized, however, thateach child develops at their own individual pace, including the need for sleep. Different children need different hours of sleep, and also have more or less regular sleep. Some sleep longer at night, while others need more time to sleep during the day.
However, during infancy, parents can slowly introduce some rituals that help the child distinguish between day and night, which will introduce a bit of regularity into their lives. Also, some parental behaviors, such as calmer behavior before a planned nap, as well as refraining from vigorous play can play a significant role in adapting the toddler to distinguish between sleep and wakefulness. They are also, in fact, the first elements of raising a child, thanks to which a parent can in some way modify the behavior of their own child and adapt them to life together, thus building strong family ties.