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Why do Newborns Sleep so Much?

The most sensitive and exciting question for expectant mothers is – will the baby sleep well after birth? The life of the whole family depends on the quality and quantity of sleep of a newborn. Long, deep and stable sleep will help the baby and mother recover after childbirth. Yes, both of them need it. It was difficult for everyone during childbirth.

It is believed that newborns sleep for a very long time. Is this always the case and what are the reasons for this? Sleep norms and possible deviations should be studied to better understand this topic.

Sleep patterns for newborns

Sleep will be long enough if the baby is healthy and there were no complications during childbirth. The baby may not sleep well or not sleep at all for the first couple of hours. This speaks of the stress experienced when passing through the birth canal. The newborn in the future should sleep about 75% of the daily time.

The duration of sleep of up to 18 hours a day is taken as the norm in the first month. All children are different and for someone, these figures can be 16 – 20 hours. A strong and healthy baby wakes up for the first month exclusively to eat. The frequency of awakenings is determined by hunger. The baby will ask for a breast more often if the mother’s milk is not enough.

The child may wake up 8 to 12 times a day. It is this number of feedings that is considered normal for a baby.

What affects the sleep of a newborn?

Inexperienced parents are always worried about how well and how long their child sleeps. His sleep is too long or maybe, on the contrary, short. It is necessary to keep a sleep diary and notice all the likely causes of disturbances. Let’s take a look at a few key points that can affect the sleep of a newborn.

Physiological health

The quality and duration of sleep are directly affected by the state of health of the newborn. The duration of sleep is disturbed if there are congenital malformations or anomalies in the development of internal organs. The baby will be more restless and sleep little if there was suffocation and hypoxia. Some defects in the intestines, stomach, or other digestive organs adversely affect the sleep of a newborn.

Functional disorders

Noticeable sleep problems can appear in the presence of functional disorders: problems with hearing, vision, motor functions, and high blood pressure. Sleep is badly affected by temporary conditions in the intestines: early constipation due to hardened meconium or dysbacteriosis.

Poor sleeping conditions

Inexperienced mothers have little understanding of what a baby needs for a comfortable sleep. It will take time for parents to get used to how to dress their baby for sleep so that he does not get cold or hot. It is necessary to observe the light and sound modes.


The stomach of a newborn is very small. It fills up quickly and the baby wants to eat again. The number of awakenings will increase if the mother has little milk. Babies sleep more restlessly and slightly less when breastfeeding. Formula-fed newborns sleep longer because formula takes longer to digest. A child who eats an adapted formula stays full longer.

Birth trauma and prematurity

These reasons can ambiguously affect the sleep of a newborn. Some children are overly anxious and others sleep constantly. It all depends on the individual sensitivity of the baby. His reaction to the outside world and the period of adaptation to it are determined by the hereditary baggage of strength and health.

Premature babies are very weak and often sleep longer than usual. They need a hundred times more strength to adapt and recover after childbirth.

Absence of mother

The baby and his mother were one for 9 months. Just one touch on her skin can soothe a newborn in seconds. Everyone knows that babies sleep better in their arms. The warmth of the mother and her heartbeat has a calming effect on the baby.

The sleep of the child suffers greatly in the absence of the mother for any reason. For example, if a mother falls ill and requires inpatient treatment, or she leaves the baby in the maternity hospital, then he will experience psychological discomfort. Sleep will be disturbed and become restless, intermittent, or completely absent.

Negative atmosphere in the family

The environment plays a big role in the psychological background. The child will not be able to sleep peacefully and for a long time if there are strife, constant quarrels, scandals, or tension in the family. His anxiety level is on the rise. The invisible umbilical cord still connects the baby with the mother and any stress causes a response in the baby. It is necessary that the mother feel calm and healthy for a good and long sleep of the newborn.

Is Sleeping Too Much a problem?

Too much sleep should not bother you in any way if the baby is gaining weight well. Everything is in order when he does not have any health problems and he eats quite actively. Don’t worry about the newborn sleeping all the time. He doesn’t have a circadian rhythm yet. This takes up to 6 months.

Long and sound sleep is not a problem if its causes are natural or individual. Properly put to sleep, feed on time, and change the diaper. This is the key to stable and uninterrupted sleep for the newborn.

Natural Causes of Long Sleep in Newborns

There are many justifications for a long sleep in newborns, which are completely natural reasons. These are not anomalies or violations. This is how nature intended. Let’s consider the main ones:

Growth hormone

A newborn baby needs to eat and grow. Certain mechanisms that allow the body to replenish growth hormone reserves are laid down for this. Somatotropin is secreted by the anterior part of the pituitary gland. Approximately 80% of the daily production of this growth hormone occurs in deep sleep. A newborn needs much more somatotropin than an already grown child and the number of sleep increases.

Lack of energy

Infants are not able to produce energy normally. They are still very weak and inactive. Their hormonal system is imperfect and all internal organs require a constant “reboot”. A newborn baby spends an incredible amount of energy just to eat. He immediately falls asleep after that and saves strength for the next meal. Waking time gradually increases starting from the second month.

Muscle weakness

The muscular system is fully restored during sleep. Muscle weakness provokes constant drowsiness and falling asleep. The child does not have enough muscle mass for activity. He gains it in the following months, gradually increasing the time of activity. Sleep helps muscles recover and provides an opportunity for further physical development and the development of new skills.

Processing of information

This is a complex process that requires enormous energy costs. If a child does not yet communicate and does not show emotions, this does not mean that he has nothing to learn. He analyzes tactile feelings, gradually accustoms himself to the regimen, and memorizes repeated rituals.

Any information received requires the active work of the brain. This information is processed during deep sleep. Brain cells are restored and new neural connections are formed.

Not adjusted biorhythms

The sleep pattern of a newborn is determined by biorhythms. They are not defined by daylight hours in the first month. The baby sleeps all the time without distinguishing between day and night. Biorhythms normalize by about 3–4 months. You need to maintain a child’s regimen and follow the sleep schedule for this.

Atypical causes of too much sleep in newborns

It is worth noting the abnormal variants of too much sleep in newborns in addition to natural causes. Most often they are associated with the health of the child or intervention in his body. Here is an example of the most typical causes of prolonged sleep:

Jaundice of newborns

Pathological jaundice occurs in the first 3 days after the birth of a child. It is associated with the difference in the Rhesus blood of the mother and baby. Passes after breastfeeding ideally. Excess bilirubin is destroyed by exposure to breast milk, ultraviolet light, or drugs.

The baby’s sleep in such a pathological condition becomes longer and stronger due to general weakness. The body receives a toxic effect on tissues, including brain tissue. This reduces all reflexes, makes the child less active, and dulls the sucking reflex.

Uninterrupted sleep can occur after the baby is under an ultraviolet lamp. It is often used to eliminate jaundice in the skin after birth. The child can sleep up to 4-6 hours in a row.

Infectious and viral diseases

An infant’s sleep may become long if he was born with a high viral load or at risk of infection from his mother. Parents should suspect excessive lethargy and drowsiness in the baby. He may cry a little, not ask for food, and even lose weight.

This cause of too much sleep in newborns is often accompanied by fever or other symptoms. A CBC will show a high white blood cell or lymphocyte count. Viruses and infections in newborns come with consequences and can cause serious harm that will be much more dangerous than a long sleep.

Surgical interventions

The dose of anesthesia can be high if surgery is needed. The baby can oversleep longer than usual and the soporific substance will come out of it for a long time. The child will show excessive drowsiness, fatigue, and lethargy. He will sleep most of the time. We are talking about operations that cannot be transferred or postponed: anomalies of the intestines, heart, lungs, and other vital organs.

Should I wake up a newborn who sleeps too long?

Many parents are very worried about the fact that the baby sleeps too much and for a long time. Especially mothers worry about whether it is harmful to the development and growth of the newborn. Let’s look at exactly what situations it is worth waking up the child:

Losing weight

In the case when the baby was born prematurely or with very low weight, it is recommended to feed him by the hour. Such a child needs to get the missing weight as soon as possible and restore the activity of vital organs. Neonatologists say that a child should eat every 2-3 hours in the first month of his life. A newborn is recommended to wake up for feeding if he sleeps for more than 4 hours.


It will be difficult not to wake the baby if he needs certain treatment procedures. Adjust the schedule of periods of sleep and feedings so that the baby is awake at this time. Some medicines require clarity and rigor of application. The awakening of the baby will depend on the treatment schedule.

The first two weeks of life

Some experts recommend always waking your baby every 2 hours for the first 2 months. The age of the first 2 weeks is critical. Newborns lose a lot of weight and are weak enough that they should not skip meals. This is also necessary for the establishment of lactation. The mother’s breasts will swell and hurt greatly if you do not subdue her baby in time.

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