Yes. You heard it right. Your baby will never sleep straight through the night. And neither will you, for that matter.
In fact, if you aren’t heavily sedated before going to bed, you are going to wake up multiple times in the night. This is not due to stress, caffeine, lack of exercise, or any other factors that can contribute to a lousy night’s sleep. It’s a normal, natural part of the human sleep cycle.
When we fall asleep, we spend a little while in a light stage of sleep and gradually progress into a deeper one. We stay there for a little while and then gradually re-emerge into the lighter stage, and when we do, there’s a good chance that we will wake up.
From start to finish, going from light sleep to deep sleep and back again takes between 90 – 110 minutes. Fortunately for us, the process repeats itself pretty easily. Either we will wake up for a minute or two and fall right back to sleep, or we might not even really break the surface at all. Ideally, this happens five or six times in a row. We get a restful, restorative snooze in the night, and we reap the benefits of it throughout the day.
BUT, what about our little ones?
Infants, despite their increased need for sleep, have a much shorter sleep cycle than adults. On average, an infant goes from light sleep to deep sleep and back again in 50 minutes. So whoever said, “Sleep like a baby” was clearly misinformed.
Sleep training doesn’t teach your child to stay asleep whole night, or spend more time in any one stage of the sleep cycle. What we do is teach your child to fall asleep independently at the beginning, and fall back to sleep when they wake up.
That’s it! That really is the heart of what we will be doing together. We will be helping your child to accept those night wake-ups as a non-event.
Once they’ve learned the skills they need to fall back to sleep on their own, they’ll wake up after a sleep cycle, their brain will signal them to go back to sleep, and that’s exactly what they will do.
It is very important for parents to understand this. We are teaching them the skills to fall asleep independently after they wake up, which, as you probably know by now, they are going to do this multiple times a night. We are not doing anything that actually influences or alters your baby’s natural sleep.
Some of you may say, “Babies are supposed to wake up at night!” Yes! You are absolutely right. Babies, just like adults, are supposed to wake up at night. In fact, it would take some powerful sedatives to prevent it.
So, we want to teach your little one to stay calm and content when they do wake up, and give them the ability to get back to sleep without any help from mom, a pacifier, or any other external thing that might not be readily available in the middle of the night.
So, if you are wondering whether or not sleep training is going to put your child at an increased risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), or if it will somehow alter their natural sleep patterns, or damage them in any way, I can assure you with the full support of the American Academy of Paediatrics, that it will not. What it will do is keep them calm and assured when they wake up in the night, and help to ensure that they get the sleep they need to be happy and healthy.
My point is, it’s normal for babies to wake up multiple times a night. This isn’t a problem. The problem arises when they can’t put themselves back to sleep whenever they wake up at night; and need you to come in and help them to fall back to sleep. So although your little one is going to wake up numerous times a night, every night, they can quickly and easily learn the skills to get back to sleep on their own. It will only seem as though they’re sleeping straight through the night.
Good Night, Sleep Tight.