Do You Want Better Nights? Daytime Sleep MATTERS!
Updated: Mar 6
The quality of your baby’s nighttime sleep depends on what is happening during the day. And, vice versa. This may not make a whole lot of sense at first, but when looking at sleep we need to consider the whole 24 hour cycle.
Keeping your baby up longer during the day will not tire them out for a better night. In fact, quite the opposite. Sleep begets sleep. A baby who is well rested during the day and isn’t overtired going into bedtime will sleep better at night.
Understanding What Happens When Baby is Overtired
Babies don’t always act “sleepy” like adults do when they are overtired. It can be easy to miss their cues. And sometimes the sleep schedule is not clear enough to even know the difference between a rested baby and an overtired baby. Maybe your baby just seems fussy all the time.
When babies and young children are overtired it can look like they are wired or a second wind. As this happens, there is an increase in the waking or stress hormones - cortisol and adrenaline. When you miss the sleepy window, your body thinks something is wrong and it goes into overdrive.
This is why it is harder for a tired baby to easily settle into a nap or nighttime sleep. And, as they struggle, we get into the cycle of wanting to help them.
Tired → Missed Window → Overtired → Hard to Settle → Fragmented or Poor Sleep →
Dependence on Sleep Prop → Repeat
Throughout the process we tend to intervene in an effort to help our babies shift this cycle and get more sleep. Unfortunately, it is this assistance which helps keep them in the loop of sleep deprivation.
When babies and children don’t have opportunities to learn to go to sleep on their own, they will continue waking and waiting for help from the outside. Ultimately this prevents them from cycling all the way through the necessary sleep cycles and from linking shorter sleep periods together for longer, uninterrupted sleep.
Imagine how irritating it would be to constantly stay in the lighter levels of sleep - never getting into truly restorative sleep. For a deeper understanding of the importance of sleep, check out my Blog post “Sleep: What’s the Big Deal?”
Understanding What it Means for Your Baby to Be Well Rested
Nighttime sleep will come in longer stretches when we shift a few of these patterns.
First, we need to help your baby learn to fall asleep on his/her own. Second, we need to help your baby into an age appropriate 24 hour sleep schedule.
This includes developmentally appropriate awake windows, good nap lengths, clear bedtime routines and avoiding over-tiredness.
Making sure that your baby falls asleep before the process of over-tiredness and cortisol production will make all the difference. Getting good sleep is so important for many reasons.
Once your baby “catches up” you will likely experience a happier, more alert and less fussy baby.
Did you know that while we are asleep, we actually learn the information that we have been exposed to during the day? With more consolidated sleep you will see your baby move more easily through milestones like crawling, speech development and gross motor skills.
What if We Have Tried and Still Can’t Get Our Baby Sleeping Well?
Most people have heard about sleep training, but aren’t really sure about the process. Part of the reason to work with a consultant is to help your baby get on an appropriate sleep schedule and learn to fall asleep (and stay asleep) on his/her own.
In my experience supporting families, this is not an intuitive process. When you are sleep deprived yourself, it can make a world of difference to have a gentle, knowledgeable guide through the process.
While we would love to do this for them, learning good sleep skills is something that our children have to do themselves.
In my method the process is parent-directed and parent-involved, but ultimately we are teaching your baby these skills that will be with them for a lifetime.
If you are interested in knowing more, book a free discovery call with me. Let's not let fear or confusion stand in the way of you and your family getting your sleep on track!