Sleep – New-borns

On average, a new-born requires 16-17 hours of sleep. 1-2 hours of wakefulness between sleep periods is typical. Sleep is evenly distributed throughout the day and night: 8-9 hours at night; 5-6 hours during day. The rhythm of sleep and wakefulness is, by and large, influenced by hunger and the feeling of well-being. As the biological daily or circadian rhythm is still immature and the creation of melatonin is also rather uneven, it is hard to predict a new-born’s wakefulness and sleep.

Feeding times definitely affect the development of sleep rhythm. The sleep of premature new-borns could have longer cycles. Children who consume a breast milk substitute usually sleep longer than new-borns who feed on breast milk.


Typical sleep problems for new-borns

Mixing up day and night is typical during the first weeks of life. In this case, it is recommended to increase the child’s daily activity level. Moreover, the child should be given sufficient time in daylight which extends the quality of night sleep due to improving the rhythm of melatonin secretion.
Irregular sleep rhythm – a new-born cannot be expected to have regular sleep-wakefulness times before reaching 2-3 months of age.
Active versus quiet sleep – smiling, sucking movements, body movements (twitches and starts refer to active sleep) do not indicate restless sleep nor a disease, but are part of the maturing of the central nervous system.


Creating the right conditions

Sleeping environment – it is recommended that the child be placed in a separate bed. According to AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines from 2005, sharing a bed should be avoided at least until the end of the 1st year. However, it is recommended to sleep in the same room with the child.
Sleeping surface – a harder mattress, avoid softening, pillows; the distance between the crib slats should be no more than 6 cm.
The recommended sleeping position is on the back.

As sleep decreases the mother’s probability for mood swings and postpartum depression, sleeping should be a new-born’s mother’s priority. Research shows that mothers of children with sleep disorders have higher levels of depression.


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