One of the most common questions from parents with children who are struggling to sleep is, Why can’t they sleep through the night?
For many parents, it seems that their children can’t go more than an hour or two without requiring care and attention, making their own sleeping habits miserable and inconsistent.
While getting a baby to sleep through whole nights is a common concern, it’s actually based on a misconception – a misconception that, in fact, gives us a much better understanding of how sleep training works.
Understanding Sleep Cycles
Most of us have a broad understanding of sleep cycles, from REMs to light sleep.
But we often think of it as one, long cycle. You go to bed at night and slowly work yourself into a deeper and deeper sleep, until you’ve slept for six or seven hours and then slowly start to emerge into a lighter sleep until you’re awake. One long, slow cycle.
But this isn’t how it works at all.
Instead, a full sleep cycle, from a light sleep to a deep sleep and back again, takes only about 90-110 minutes for adults. That’s it.
Generally, these cycles happen a number of times throughout the night and you end up with a good, healthy, restorative night of sleep over the course of five or six cycles.
But, there are often moments, in between the cycles, when you either wake up or become very close to it. Not because of stress or caffeine, but because this is simply how sleep works. You might not even remember it, but you typically become a bit more conscious before falling back into the cycle and a deeper sleep.
The point being, waking up frequently for a moment throughout the night is a normal, healthy part of sleeping and it isn’t something that should be thought of or understand as bad or detrimental to one’s sleep.
Sleep Cycles & Children
For babies and children, this is even more so the case, because sleep cycles are even shorter, generally taking only 50 minutes.
This is why babies wake up so frequently throughout the night, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong or dysfunctional about that. It’s simply how sleep works.
However, where things can go awry is when a baby or child doesn’t know what to do when they wake up in middle of the night. Instead of simply falling back asleep, they cry and whine, uncertain about how to handle themselves.
This is one of the primary ways that sleep training works.
We teach your baby not to dramatize these wakeups, but instead to see them as non-events, allowing them to quickly and easily fall back asleep without so much as a peep.
When they learn this skill, it allows them to fall asleep independently both when they first go to bed and when they wake up throughout the night. It makes them less dependant on coddling and comforting to get back to sleep, and makes both you and them much happier with their sleeping habits.
And, while some worry that this could lead to unnatural sleeping habits or even something as serious as SIDS, this is simply not true.
Our whole goal is to work with your child’s natural sleep cycle – not against it – allowing them to achieve a greater level of independence (and you, a greater level of peace at night).
Need Help Training Your Baby to Sleep Independently? Get in Touch.
If you’re looking for some help with your baby or child’s sleeping habits, don’t hesitate to get in touch for a free consultation!
I’ve helped dozens of families achieve better sleep, and I’d love to help you do the same. Set up a time to chat today.