Why Sleep Is Important
Babies need more sleep than adults because they are growing at such a rapid rate. The pituitary gland, responsible for secreting growth hormones, works more quickly when babies are asleep. The average weight gain of babies aged 1 month to 6 months is a staggering 5-7 ounces a week, so you can see why they need so much shut eye!
When we are sleeping is also the time scientists believe the brain organises itself, stores information and replaces lost chemicals. Babies absorb so much new information while they are awake experts believe that their brains need extra time to process this information.
Babies also seem to sleep a lot in the day because they wake up every few hours to feed, especially newborns.
Sleep is also important for your baby's emotional wellbeing. Babies needs enough sleep to feel energised, so they can play and enjoy exploring their world. If your baby is tired he'll feel grumpy and be irritable (as most adults would!). Don't worry if your newborn seems to sleep all the time. Newborns sleep an average of 15-17 hours every 24 hours, with some babies sleeping up to 20 hours a day! Signs that your baby isn't getting enough sleep are:
- Sometimes going to sleep for the night much earlier than their usual bedtime.
- Having to wake them up in the morning.
- Becoming very active and hyper late in the evening (rather than being energised, this is a sign of overtiredness).
- Becoming clingy.
- Yawning and rubbing eyes.
- Loss of interest in toys.
Give your baby the opportunity to get as much sleep as he needs (see our section on Naps and article on What Should My Baby's Sleep Routine Be? for advice on how much sleep your baby needs), and enjoy putting your feet up (or getting some much needed sleep yourself!) while your baby snoozes away.