Baby-led Sleep Deprivation
Why Babies Wake Up A lot At Night
I write this post a little bleary-eyed after another night of broken sleep. I shall term this tiredness as baby-led sleep deprivation! I should be used to it by now (I’m not) as it has been a trend of our little one to wake up almost every two hours throughout the night.
I need to find a solution to help my daughter sleep through the night – for the sanity of the family!
To remedy an issue, you first need to understand it. “Alexa, reasons why babies wake up a lot during the night.” My Alexa Echo responds: Sorry I don’t know that.” Hmmm, not a good start.
Time to enter the Google rabbit hole!
Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle
I’ve come across a couple of articles which have improved my understanding ten-fold. The Guardian’s Babies’ sleep patterns can be challenging – here’s why you shouldn’t despair. The second is an article on BBC: Getting through the night: coping with common baby sleep problems.
In a nutshell, a baby’s sleep system (the homeostatic and circadian processes) is immature and is developing. Their sleep cycle seems to result in a shorter sleep cycle with higher frequencies of waking up.
Unlike an adult, a baby cannot immediately block their sleep cycles together – hence the waking up after a couple of hours when they have completed a sleep cycle.
Also, in younger babies being hungry will cause them to stir. Our little one is nearly 11 months old and has a couple of decent feeds through the night. We try to give our baby a decent feed before her bedtime, without forcing her like a Foie Gois!
The good news is that it will get better. Your baby’s sleep patterns will mature and they will soon be joining two sleep cycles together meaning the little one will sleep up to four hours without waking.
I have recently observed that our little one is starting to get themself back to sleep following a wakeful moment due to noise.
Those with young babies may have the added issue of getting your little one into a routine. Our little one used to stay up quite late at one point. With some commitment around routine and her developing, a bedtime period is now well defined.
If your little one does struggle to settle into sleep, you could try using sleep spray.
Helping the Situation
There are some things in your control which can help your child’s sleep.
You can ensure the sleep environment is just right: temperature, lower noise (or use white noise) and low lighting.
I have also recently bought a dehumidifier and air purifier to help reduce any sleep issues due to moisture and allergens in the air. On a higher setting, the air purifier produces the perfect white noise!
Knowing that a situation ‘is what it is’ and that it will improve should help the frustration as it is somewhat out of your control, making it easier to accept the situation. Although, even for the most accepting of people, sleep deprivation is sometimes going to have a negative impact on the mood.
If you are in a relationship, be supportive of one another and try not to take out frustrations on one another. Also, share the burden. Perhaps agree on the shift pattern. If one of you goes to sleep earlier, perhaps they take a later shift! This may not be possible if the baby is being breastfed. However, you will get an idea around when your baby tends to want a feed and could work the shift pattern around this.
You may not have control over your baby’s sleep pattern, but you do have control over yours. Try to go to bed earlier so you can clock up more hours of sleep.
Take note of, and keep in mind, the positive step changes your child is taking.