Understanding Newborn Sleep-7 Key Insights

Becoming a parent is an existing and fulfilling journey but it also has many challenges of its own. The early years of newborns are the most important and fastest time for growth and development. It is time which is very much critical and sleep plays a vital role. Newborn sleep pattern is a thing that parents should understand well as it help them to develop physically and mentally. Every newborn baby needs constant care and needs to be fed many times in the day and night. Babies mostly sleep well during the day and awake at night. Among many reasons, hunger can be one because newborns do not eat much in a single feeding, and especially breast milk is diabetes quickly, and thus, baby wakes up more often because they are hungry. So understanding and making a newborn bedtime routine is a task in itself, and parents have to make it well, as the growth and development of babies depend on that.

Why is the proper sleep routine for newborns needed? 

Sleep for newborns in the first year of life is vital because it supports your newborn’s growth and health, and it also includes physical and cognitive growth. If the quality of sleep of newborns is poor, it can hinder their development. Proper sleep helps in 

  • Physical growth 

Growth hormone is secreted during deep stages of sleep. This is the right phase when your baby’s body grows and repairs tissues.

  • Brain development

During the sleep of newborns, the brain forms new connections and pathways. This is a phase when the brain processes and helps baby to understand all the further information that they absorb during their waking hours.

  • Energy conservation 

Sleep helps conserve energy in newborns. In these initial years, they grow at a fast speed, and this needs a lot of energy. By sleeping a lot, newborns conserve and redirect that energy towards growth and development.

  • Immune system health

Newborns and sleep have great connections as they offer many benefits to the immune system. During sleep, newborns produce a type of protein known as cytokines that help to beat infection and illness.

  • Sleep aids motor development.

A newborn baby’s sleep movements are linked to sensory and motor development.

The normal sleep pattern of newborns and sleep stages of newborn sleep 

Normally, the sleep pattern of newborns is four eight to nine hours in the daytime and about 8 hours at night. Most babies do not sleep through the night (6 to 8 hours) without waking until at least three months of age.

However, there are two types of sleep for newborns : 

  1. REM sleep 

Newborn babies spend about 16 hours daily sleeping, and nearly half of this is in REM sleep. Your baby gets disturbed and wakes from noises during REM sleep that they do not do during non-REM sleep.

  1. Non REM sleep 

Non-REM sleep is divided into four stages 

  • Stage 1 is all about drowsiness 
  • Stage 2 is all about life and sleep 
  • Stage 3 is all about deep sleep
  • Stage 4 is all about very deep sleep 

Baby enters stage 1 at the start of the sleep cycle, then goes into stage 2, after that moves to 3, and then to stage 4, then reverses back to 3, 2, and again to REM. These cycles occur many times during sleep. Newborn babies wake up when they shift from deep sleep to light sleep and may find it difficult to sleep again in the first few months. Also, newborns need to be fed every two to four hours, and thus, they sleep in short bursts. After completing their six months, babies start sleeping through the night without feeding and sleep for long stretches. If you are very much concerned about your newborn’s sleep, then keep track of what is happening, as it will help you to understand them well. 

Understanding Newborn sleep pattern 

When babies are born, they do not know exactly how to put themselves to sleep when they are tired or how to wake up when they have complete rest. If your baby stays awake all night and sleeps all day or wakes up frequently or early, then keep in mind that this newborn bedtime pattern is completely normal. Their sleeping patterns will change as they grow and develop. Below are seven key insights into baby sleep patterns listed below to help you understand: 

  1. Every baby’s sleep is different.

Every baby’s sleep pattern is different as some sleep well easily, and some cannot manage it well. It is better to learn and understand your baby’s sleep pattern and trust your instincts. You can also get tips from your gynecologist, and within some time, you will know what helps your baby sleep and what disturbs them.

  1. Newborns sleep more during the day. 

Sleep patterns of newborns are not fixed as they may be sleeping for about 18 hours a day. They can sleep for two to four hours in the daytime.

Never try to keep full silence to let your baby sleep; it is best to get your baby used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise.

  1. Newborn feeding time is not fixed can be day and night 

Newborns come with tiny tummies so they need proper feed during the day and night. Newborn babies will sleep on and off throughout the day and night, and their feeding is also all through day and night.

  1. Newborns are restless sleepers. 

Newborns wake up a lot and thus cannot get proper sleep. The reason behind this is REM, i.e., half of the time is spent in rapid eye movement. It is actually a light, active sleep in which babies move, dream, and wake with a whimper. Over time, with growth, they will have few periods of REM and more periods of deep sleep. 

  1. Newborns are noisy sleepers. 

If your baby is noisy while sleeping, then do not worry, as it is normal. You may notice that they cry, breathe, grunt, and wheeze while sleeping. The reason behind this is that their respiratory system is not fully developed, so breathing takes extra effort.

  1. Newborns confuse day and night. 

When in the womb, babies live in complete darkness, and they sleep during the daytime. It can be helpful to make newborns understand the difference between night-time and daytime. Try to keep lights low at night and keep curtains on during the day.

  1. Your sleep habits affect your baby’s sleep pattern.

Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do to ensure quality sleep for your baby. Try to discuss this with your gynecologist for help, as she will listen and support you. 

Tips for newborn sleep

Getting your newborn baby to sleep can be more challenging than expected. Below are some vital tips for newborn sleep that can help your newborn sleep in a better way :

  • Always fix a regular sleep time routine. Once the baby recognizes the way, you can bring their bedtime forward to a time your preference suits you.
  • When your baby wakes at night, keep the lights dim. Also talking and playing to a minimum at this time.
  • All babies are different; some need more help than others. But most babies develop a regular sleep pattern as they grow, although these will continue to change.
  • Try out white noise, as it is recommended to replicate these womb sounds rather than playing lullabies to newborns.it is most effective for setting a baby and also for helping babies resettle during sleep.
  • If your baby is tired and struggling to settle, feeding may get them to nod off. Breast milk is good for making babies drowsy, and that is the reason why tired newborns drift off while feeding.
  • Some babies find a gentle massage helpful and to get ready for bed. Make sure that your baby is warm, and it can also help to have most of their body wrapped.


Many parents stress about their newborn sleep because some babies sleep more some sleep for long, and some newborns in short bursts. Some of them sleep through the night, while some wake up all night. Every newborn has a pattern of waking as well as sleeping, and it will never be the same as others. It is best to talk to your obstetrician or gynecologist to get some tips to manage your life’s new phase with your baby. Your visit to Queen’s Gynecology can help you with many problems. Don’t feel ashamed for asking for help or understanding by discussing it with your gynecologist. At Queen’s Gynecology, the team of  best ob-gyn , neonatologist and pediatrician will help you with all pre and post-delivery care and guide you to handle all things very well. It is a well-known clinic in South Delhi offering the best postpartum care services and teaches you to manage post-delivery well.

Kashmera Hazra

Kashmera Hazra

Kashmera Hazra is an engineer turned writer. She is an alumnus of the prestigious university Birla institute of technology, Mesra, and has several international journals and research papers in her name. She worked as a content writer with HealthKart and has over six years of experience in this field.

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