Background of baby sleep
Sleep is made up of cycles of Rapid Eye Movement(REM) and non-REM sleep. REM is the time of dreams and memory storage. NREM is restful and deep sleep. REM and NREM alternate over and over through the night. Infants wake more often because they have shorter sleep cycles than adults. At birth, an infant’s sleep cycle lasts from around forty-five minutes, slowly increasing to sixty minutes at the end of first year. Since the brain of the infant is growing at rapid pace, they have upto five times more REM sleep than adults. This lets them file away in their memories the flood of new things things they learn every day!
The most important biological rhythm for humans is the twenty-four-hour cycle of day and night. Light plays a major role in regulating this rhythm. When our eyes are exposed to daylight, the photosensitive cells within them signal the brain to wake up. At night, the absence of light, makes us sleepy. This internal body clock is called as ‘circadian rhythm’ (from Latin for “about one day”).
Importance of baby sleep during first 3 years
Boosts brain development
A baby’s brain activity is very high because of the fast growing size and connectivity that is developing inside the brain. Good quality and quantity of sleep is necessary for memory formation, memory consolidation and cognition.
Helps in weight gain
It’s known that levels of growth hormone rise during certain stages of sleep. The researchers have found that periods where infants slept more overall corresponded with growth spurts and also a gain in weight and body fat.
Sleep is necessary for the repair of the body. It restores energy and builds the immune system by strengthening the infection-fighting cells.
Babies who sleep well are easy to manage, less cranky and more adaptable to surroundings.