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Why Your Baby Will Never Sleep Through the Night

I received an email yesterday that I wanted to address, as I think it helps to clear up a common misconception about sleep training. Well, sleep in general, really.

The truth is, your baby will never, ever sleep straight through the night.

And neither will you. Deal with it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. To give you some context, this email had a link to an article titled, “Sleep Training Debunked: Study Finds Genetics Play a Large Role in Baby’s Sleep Habits

You can imagine my surprise to find out that the system I’d developed, the research I’d been doing for a nearly a decade and a half, the program that had shown such incredible results for tens of thousands of people, had now, in fact, proven to be a bunch of crap.

“Proponents of sleep training may want to find a new day job,” the article states. “A new study shows that genetics, not sleep training or they way a mom or dad parents their child, plays a large role in how babies sleep through the night.”

Well, before I abandon my career, let’s have a look at the facts, because in my opinion, the article only reinforces the benefits of sleep training for those children who are prone to higher than average nighttime wake-ups.

Sleep training, despite what its detractors might tell their audience, is not some kind of sedative. It does not, nor will it ever, prevent your baby from waking up in the night.

What sleep training accomplishes is to teach kids to fall asleep independently after they’ve woken up.

That’s it! That’s the magical component of sleep training. How to make the journey from awake to sleeping on your own, and once your little one’s mastered that skill, it doesn’t matter how often they wake at night, because they’ll wake up momentarily, possibly squirm a little or give one of those oh-so-cute baby stretches, and head back off to sleep.

And the truth is, that’s a wonderful skill to learn, regardless of your age, because you’re going to be waking up numerous times a night for the rest of your life.

A typical sleep cycle lasts, on average, about 90 – 120 minutes for an adult. That’s the time it takes to go from stage 1 sleep, which is light and easily disturbed, to stage 3 sleep, which is that deep, rejuvenative state your husband gets into when you can’t wake him up by anything short of a high voltage electric shock, into REM sleep, where you experience dreaming, and back to stage one again.

When you’re in either stage 1 or REM sleep, it’s very common to wake up, although you typically won’t remember doing so, because you’ll just readjust slightly and go back to sleep, and the cycle starts again.

The same thing happens with babies, although on a slightly accelerated timeline, and when they’re not taught how to get back to sleep independently, they need to call their parents in to help them. Cue the crying baby.

So although I respect Ms. Chait’s opinion that those of us who have benefitted so magnificently from sleep training our kids are really just the benefactors of some mass placebo effect, I think my interpretation of the data leads me to a different conclusion.

I think I’ll keep my day job after all.


If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!

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The Sleep Sense Philosophy

Cry-it-out? Coddle? Co-sleep? Attachment parenting? Ferberizing?
If you’re going to let me help you with something as precious as your child’s sleep, you probably want to know a little bit about who I am and exactly how I think...

Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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