The truth is babies need a lot of sleep, normally between 16 and 19 hours a day, depending on the baby. The reason they need such a large amount of sleep is that a newborn’s brain is still in development and the majority of this development takes place during sleep. Research also suggests that sleep is important to the development of baby’s central nervous and immune systems. In this respect, baby’s sleep is just as important to his development as his nourishment from breastfeeding and is why babies sleep, on average, twice as much as adults.
These developments are also why baby’s sleep is distinctly different to normal sleep. Baby sleep consists of two cycles, Non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) deep sleep and REM sleep, rotating in cycles of about an hour.
REM sleep is not a deep sleep and can sometimes give the impression that baby is a restless sleeper; baby will squirm, twitch, make a few noises and even open their eyes during REM sleep.
Non REM sleep is a much deeper sleep and as baby grows this type of sleep will become more common. No one knows for sure exactly what is happening during Non Rem sleep, but there is general consensus that this sleep is good for baby’s development.
Signs of Troubled Sleep
While lots of sleep is required for baby development and is completely normal, there are a few other signs to watch out for which aren’t normal.
- Rapid Breathing – consistently more than seventy breaths per minute is not normal.
- Persistent Grunting – grunting noises at the end of breaths can be a sign of blocked airways.
- Flaring – if nostrils flare during breathing it could be a sign that baby is struggling to breathe.
- Retractions – if the muscles in baby’ chest and neck contract more deeply than normal, it could be a sign of respiratory difficulty.
IF YOU NOTICE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS OF BREATHING DIFFICULTY YOU SHOULD CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.