Newborn babies sleep between twelve and sixteen hours a day. However, you have to keep in mind that this is an average range and some babies will naturally need less sleep and others will naturally need more sleep. For this reason, you cannot depend on the average number of sleep hours to determine if your baby is getting enough sleep. You will need to look at other factors. The following are some good tips on how to tell if your baby is getting enough sleep.
Look At Your Baby’s Eyes
A baby’s eyes are a window into her soul. They will tell you if your baby is getting enough sleep. If your baby’s eyes looked glazed over, then she is probably not getting enough sleep. On the other hand, if your baby’s eyes look alert and attentive, then she is probably getting all the sleep she requires. You can also pay attention to how well her eyes focus on objects, especially her favorite objects like toys, the family pet, or dangling objects above her crib. If her eyes have trouble focusing, she is probably overly tired and needs more sleep. The eyes of an overly tired baby will also sometimes flutter.
Is Your Baby Yawning and Rubbing Her Face?
Babies who aren’t getting enough sleep will show this in their body movements. The most obvious body movement of a sleepy baby is yawning. When babies are overly tired, just like adults, they will have a tendency to take deep slow breaths and yawn. Overly tired babies will also rub their eyes a lot. They may also spend an inordinate amount of time rubbing their cheeks and ears. Sleep deprived babies often squirm around more.
Watch Closely Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle
A baby’s normal sleep cycle will usually last about forty-five minutes to an hour. During this time, approximately half of this cycle is spent in an active sleep state, similar to REM sleep in adults. During this active state, the baby can be easily woken up. The baby’s eyes may move rapidly, their breathing rate may increase and become more irregular, they often make strange little noises, their heart beat may become irregular, and they may have sudden jerky body movements. The other half of a baby’s normal sleep cycle is in a deeper sleep where their breathing and heart rate are regular and they lie perfectly still and quiet. Babies who have not been getting enough sleep tend to spend more time in deep sleep and less time in active sleep. If you see a sudden increase in how much relative time your baby spends in deep sleep, this is a good indicator that your baby needs more sleep. By monitoring your baby’s relative sleep cycle, you can help her and you both get more sleep.
How Often Does Your Baby Wake Up During the Night?
This may seem counter intuitive at first but babies who aren’t getting enough sleep wake up more during the night than babies who are getting enough sleep. It’s as if they are just too tired to sleep. If your baby starts waking up more at night, and there isn’t an obvious reason such as sickness or teething, you should try encouraging them to sleep more. Of course, this will help you get more sleep too.
About the Author: Alisha Webb is a British writer and content developer for Natural Mat – a specialist in organic baby mattresses.