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Cycles of Newborn Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important parts of growth and development. In fact, sleep is so important that even when growth and development have been completed upon reaching adulthood, sleep–particularly REM sleep–is critical to life. REM sleep, which is characterized by rapid eye movements, is essential for learning, memory, mood, and overall health.

For new parents, understanding how much sleep a newborn needs, the importance of sleep, and the cycles of sleep can be confusing. If you’ve recently brought a little one home, consider the following regarding the cycles of newborn sleep–

The Cycles of Newborn Sleep: The Basics

Here’s a look into the basics of the newborn sleep cycles:

  • Stage 1 – Stage one is the stage where a baby is just getting drowsy, perhaps drifting in and out of sleep;
  • Stage 2 – During stage two, your newborn will be lightly asleep, but easily woken if moved or startled;
  • Stage 3 – This is a deep sleep – your baby likely won’t wake if moved; and
  • Stage 4 – Stage four sleep is the deepest state of non-REM sleep.

After traveling through stages one, two, three, and four, your baby will then move back through three, then two, and then enter REM sleep. The cycle will repeat itself several times throughout the night. 

How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

Babies, especially newborns, need a lot of sleep. In fact, newborns will probably sleep between eight and nine hours during the daytime and another eight hours at night. (With that in mind, your baby will wake every few hours to eat). While REM sleep accounts for about 25 percent of an adult’s sleep, REM accounts for over 50 percent of an infant’s snooze time.

Making sure that your baby gets enough sleep and isn’t disturbed during sleep is critical. You should wait for your baby to wake up for feedings rather than wake your child when it’s convenient for you. While researchers are still trying to learn more, there is evidence that illustrates the harmful effects of disrupting REM, with one study concluding that interrupted sleep could be as harmful as no sleep at all.

Work with an Expert if You’re a New Parent

If you’re a new parent who has questions about your newborn’s sleep cycle and sleep patterns, working with an expert can help. As a new parent, it is normal to have concerns about your new baby, as well as frustrations regarding how to get a good sleep schedule in place.

For answers to all of your questions and help getting your baby to sleep and sleep well, Dr. Natalie Barnett of Seven Oaks Sleep Science can help. Dr. Barnett has a Ph.D. in genetics as well as a postgraduate certificate in pediatric sleep science, and has helped countless new parents like you.

You can email Dr. Natalie Barnett directly by using the intake form on our website or call Seven Oaks Sleep Science today to schedule a consultation.