With all the talk among new parents about never getting enough sleep, it can be hard to imagine that some moms and dads are concerned that their baby might be sleeping TOO much. But to be fair, if your little one seems to do nothing besides sleep, it would probably raise a red flag or two.
Now, the truth is that babies (especially newborns) need a LOT of sleep! So much sleep, in fact, that it can be a little alarming to new parents that their little bundle of joy seems to be sleeping all the time!
However, there IS such a thing as too much sleep. In this week’s video, I’ll let you know how much your child needs (depending on their age), and when you should consider limiting the amount of sleep they’re getting.Rather read than watch? Click here.
Now don’t run away. Most of you are here because your baby is not sleeping enough. But could your baby be sleeping too much? And could that be interfering with how they’re sleeping at night? And the answer is usually no. But I’m gonna give you some scenarios in which the answer might be yes. First of all, let’s look at newborns. What can happen with a newborn on occasion is they get a little stuck with this day and night thing, and they start doing a little bit too much daytime sleep, and then making up for it throughout the night.
So, when we’re looking at newborns, I mean basically they’re running on a 24-hour clock. Just like sleep for a bit, eat, sleep for a bit, eat, sleep for a bit. And this kind of goes through the whole 24 hour cycle. But as you begin to understand your baby, you’ll notice within the first few weeks that there usually is one time in the 24 hour clock that’s longer than the rest. Hopefully it starts showing up at bedtime. The first bedtime stretch. That’s where we want our focus to be on this longer stretch.
So, if all the other times are about two hours, this one might start turning into three, maybe even four, eventually five, and so on. So that’s where the consolidation of nighttime sleep starts to show up is in that one magical piece of sleep that starts stretching out. Sometimes though, it starts to stretch out in the day. So now this little, you know, three hour became three and a half is now four. It’s showing up somewhere in the day. And that is tricky, because they’re not gonna get enough feeds in throughout the day and so they’re gonna be playing catch-up with their feeds all night.
So you’ll find that sleep actually shortens in the night if they’re taking that long stretch during the day. So in the newborn phase, the only time I would really wake up a baby is if that longer stretch of sleep is happening during your day. So just cap it at about two hours, and hopefully we can encourage it to start showing up somewhere else. Ideally at bedtime. If we’re talking about older babies, sometimes the last nap of the day can cut into our time awake window before bed, so I will advise people on occasion to wake up a baby from that third nap of the day or the second nap of the day if it’s pushing too far into your awake window.
So let’s say we have an eight month old who’s on three hours of time awake, and we’re keeping our bedtime, you know, roughly 7:30, then we don’t really want babies sleeping much past, let me see if I can do quick math, 4:30. Because that’s gonna start pushing our bedtime down. And I really do like bedtime to try to stay where it is consistently day after day. So I would wake up baby then. But otherwise, there really is like, sleep begets sleep. So the better your baby’s sleeping during the day, you’re gonna notice the better they sleep through the night. Never believe anyone who tells you maybe you should pull the naps. Maybe if baby didn’t nap all day, she would sleep better at night.
That is just not true. That’s a myth. All that will happen if you do that is your baby will be so overtired that, you know, she’s either screaming the house down at five o’clock, she’s so over it, like over herself, that she’s so fatigued that she can’t handle anything. Or the sleep that she has when she’s overtired will be very fragmented. So it actually increases nighttime wake ups if a baby is overtired going into the night. So be careful of that. We really want babies to be sleeping well and enough throughout the day.
Now into our toddler section. Occasionally I find that the nap can become problematic with bedtime and it usually shows up about two and a half to three years of age when the baby, or he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a toddler. The toddler will usually happily take the nap and it’s often a pretty significant two to three hour nap, but then now there’s all this game playing at bedtime or they’re in their crib, you know, having a dance party with themselves for two hours before they finally fall asleep. Now they’re waking up with a sleep debt, they need the nap, they’re awake for two hours again at bedtime. It’s just kind of this vicious cycle where the child’s getting, you know, a bit sleep deprived as the days go on.
So, it’s really a choice between do you really love the nap or do you really love your bedtime? And at some point you do have to choose. I know, it’s sad, but you do. For me, I liked bedtime. I just liked my kids lights out at 7:00. I liked that evening piece of the day for myself, so I tended to pull the nap before I would move bedtime. But you might love the nap and think you can’t live your day without that nap. So then you’ll have to move bedtime a little bit later. So if you’ve got a, you know, three-year-old who’s taking a two hour afternoon nap, you’re probably looking at about an 8:00, 8:30 bedtime to compensate ’cause there needs to be enough sleep pressure built up from the nap to bedtime to help this child get to bed on on time.
So that’s my guidelines for too much sleep. It’s usually not a thing, but occasionally it is. So I hope that helps. Thanks for watching. Sleep well.
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 107,000 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 – I’m looking forward to helping you!
As parents, one of the biggest concerns during the first few years of a…View Post
Bedtime resistance, night-time wakings, irregular sleep schedules, there’s no shortage of problems that can…View Post
So, listen. I'm not claiming that I was immune to the cuteness of my…View Post