Typical sleep patterns of a newborn
The sleep patterns of a newborn usually consist of sleeping through most of the day and waking only for meals. This may present a dilemma for new parents. Babies don’t have a set schedule, sleeping anywhere from 16 to 17 hours per day, and seem to get hungry every few hours. This can make it difficult for new parents to get rest.
Wondering why the sleep patterns of a newborn tend to be so different from older children and adults?
For the first six months, babies don’t consistently produce enough melatonin, particularly at night. The presence of light decreases melatonin levels and helps wake you up in the morning. Inversely, darkness increases melatonin levels, easing you into restful sleep at night. However, the lack of melatonin in babies’ bodies interferes with the natural circadian rhythm that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Typically, newborns will sleep eight to nine hours throughout the day, then another eight hours at night. Since their stomachs are so tiny, they have to wake up roughly every three hours for a bottle or breastfeeding session.
Similar to adults, babies move through various stages of sleep. Half of the time, newborns are in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep, when dreaming occurs. Their cycle alternates between REM and non-REM sleep.
Infants may struggle at times to fall back into a deep sleep after a REM phase. They’ll wake up and become fussy. This typically happens less frequently as they get older.