Development and sleep : how it is linked

From the moment the baby is born, parents are extremely careful and worried about what their little one is eating and how much quality sleep they are getting. Instinctively, parents know the importance of a good sleep, and this is for a good reason!

Who needs a clock when we have circadian rhythms
Babies have to slowly get used to the biological rhythms that are carved in their genes. Indeed, humans, and many animals, are “programmed” so they can function during the day and sleep at night. All mammals have these common intermittent phases : to be awake and to sleep. These intermittent phases are regulated by an internal clock located in the center of the brain, the hypothalamus.

Our internal clock works by cycles of 24 hours. This is what we call “circadian rhythms”.

When we are tired and when there is less light, the human body receive some signals. They yawn, they scratch their tired eyes. These signals tell them that it is time to go to bed.

Normal circadian sleep rhythm graph

The truth about a good night of sleep
However, a good sleep is not inborn. As a matter of fact, children, especially infants, have to learn and acquire it. And this learning of a good sleep has to be guided by the parents. Sleeping well at night and staying awake during the day is a key step in their development, just like walking or talking. It is important to instill good sleeping habits in children as early as possible.

Newborn babies
A newborn baby does not make the difference between day or night. They sleep whenever and wake up whenever. During the first few weeks/months, parents have to accept their sleeping habits and their rhythm : their sleeping patterns still follow the cozy pre-born rhythm. As time goes, babies will physiologically adapt to their new rhythm, and a right 24 cycle can be make easy, but parents bad habits can also slow it down (leaving the lights on at night, feeding them at night, checking on them too often at night, etc). The use of a baby safety monitor can be advantageous as they allow parents to directly see or listen to their baby without disturbing their sleep cycles.

For more information, visit Baby Safety Monitors.

Date: Wednesday, 28. April 2010 8:54
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