Is your Little Darling a light sleeper? Do they wake up every time you so much as open the dishwasher door? Do their gorgeous eyes pop open the second you put them into their cot?
You are not alone; this is one of the most common issues parents face. Parents often remark that their babies just wake so easily and that once they are awoken, it is almost impossible to get them back down to sleep.
Ready for me to let you into a secret?
All babies are light sleepers, and all babies are heavy sleepers. Just the same as all adults...
Adults and children go from light sleep to heavy sleep and back again multiple times a night. The difference is that some babies spend more time in light sleep stages before moving into deeper sleep, and some go from light sleep to deep sleep in the blink of any eye, but we all move through these cycles every time we sleep.
The ‘best’ sleep i.e. restorative sleep (where we do things like cell regeneration and memory storage) is “deep” sleep that we get in the middle of the cycles. That’s why some people can function on less sleep whilst others are hitting up the caffeine in order to even speak (me) if they don’t get the sleep they need. This is more than likely because they get more "deep" sleep than those of us who spend more time in light sleep stages.
If you think your baby is a light sleeper, it is probably the fact that your baby tends to spend more time in light sleep than deep sleep, because that’s the easiest stage to wake up from. It’s also when we dream and are more aware of our surroundings, so external noises tend to wake us up easier. Pro tip here- White Noise is your friend!
Babies spend nearly twice as much time in light stages of sleep than adults. So if you’re finding that your baby is prone to waking up a lot, it’s partly a matter of inconvenient timing. I have been the person putting a note on my front door warning all that knock of impending doom I will rain down on them if they woke my sleeping child!
How can you teach a baby to spend more time in deep sleep?
Sadly, you can’t trick biology. However, what you can do is teach them to fall back to sleep on their own when they do wake up. It’s a wonderful skill to teach them, and it will benefit your entire family for many a year to come. It genuinely is the gift that just keeps on giving!
There are a lot of elements to teaching a baby to fall asleep independently, but the single most important one is the elimination of sleep props. By that, I mean anything that baby uses to help them fall asleep that they can’t provide on their own.
Dummies, rocking, and feeding are all good examples of sleep props. If baby needs a car ride to fall asleep, then they’re going to need another car ride when they wake up again at the end of the next sleep cycle. If they get rocked to sleep, they learn to rely on that motion as part of the process, so once they wake up at night, they’re stuck that way until you come in and help them get back to sleep. Cue the 2am car ride that I have known parents make!
However, the babies that people refer to as “good sleepers” have the same sleep cycles as the ones who wake up crying. They’ve just found the ability of falling asleep on their own. They might wake up, fuss for a few minutes but find a way to settle themselves back to sleep. Oh the heaven!
The key here is that you can’t stop your Little Darling from waking up at night but you can without a shadow of a doubt, teach them how to get back to sleep independently.
I promise you, once you do, you and baby can both look forward to full night of deep, blissful and uninterrupted sleep. Hallelujah!
Please reach out to me if you would like more information on how I can assist you in teaching this skill to your baby. I am here to help in a none judgmental and supportive way!