Sleep Regression - What it is, Signs, and How to Combat It
Sleep. The ever-important yet sometimes elusive beast. A good night’s sleep is necessary to maintain your mental and physical health. Sadly, once you add a newborn into the house it is unlikely you are getting that much of it. However, once you figured out a schedule that works for you, and become attuned to your baby’s habits you have probably settled into a routine. Suddenly, your baby is deviating from that routine--fussing when you put them to bed, waking up more often, or even not falling asleep. If any of these sound familiar it is likely you are experiencing a case of sleep regression. In this article, we will discuss sleep regression, what it is, why it happens, when it happens, and how to deal with it.
What is sleep regression?
Sleep regression is when your baby (who normally sleeps pretty well) suddenly has trouble sleeping or falling asleep. Cases of sleep regression typically last between two to four weeks before the baby settles back into its old routine. The occasional nighttime interruption or temporary changes are to be expected with a newborn, but if these turn into the new regular you are probably dealing with sleep regression. This break from their normal sleeping habits can be frustrating for you and for them, and can even be an indication that there is a bigger problem to deal with.
Signs of sleep regression
So, what are the signs of sleep regression? And how are they different from the occasional sleeping disruption? The signs of sleep regression can vary depending on the reason for your baby’s change in sleep schedule.
In general, the signs for sleep regression include:
- Fussing or crying when you try to put them to sleep
- Waking up more often during the night
- Not wanting to take naps
- Trouble falling asleep or getting back to sleep
- Changes in appetite
Why does it happen?
There are multiple reasons why your baby may be experiencing sleep regression.
- A change in routine
- A growth spurt (causing them to be hungrier than usual)
- Teething pain
- Developmental Milestones
All of these things can cause your baby to wake up more frequently or have problems going to sleep.
When does it happen?
Depending on the reason for their sleep regression there may be no way to tell when your child will experience a sleep regression. However, some reasons, such as developmental changes, teething, or growth spurts are pretty predictable. There are typically about three sleep regressions that you are likely to experience in your child’s first year of life. They occur around four months, six months, and eight months of age.
At four months, your child is experiencing a developmental change in their brain that causes them to wake up more frequently. When your baby is first born their brains are wired to have two sleep cycles a night. Around the four-month mark, their brain begins to develop and mature, and their sleep cycle changes to four times a night--like an adult. This means that they are having lighter sleep cycles and are more likely to wake up.
At six months, your baby is experiencing a growth spurt and this can cause them to have an increased appetite. Similarly, at eight months, your baby is going through a lot of developmental milestones. They are learning a language, starting to crawl, teething, and growing. All of these things can cause them to experience a sleep regression.
How to combat sleep regression
In order to combat sleep regression, you need to ensure that your baby is tired, pain-free, and full when putting them to sleep. One of these three things is often the culprit when it comes to sleep regression.
Here are some tips to combat sleep regression:
- Put your baby to bed when they are drowsy but not yet asleep. This teaches them to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. Rocking your baby or holding them until they are almost asleep and then setting them in their crib can help. You can also remain in the room and offer reassuring touches and sounds until they fall asleep. If they begin to fuss and cry again then you can pick them up and try again.
- Feed them as much as needed. If your baby is going through a growth spurt they can sometimes wake up hungry. Try feeding them a little bit more food before putting them to sleep and seeing if that helps. If they wake up in the middle of the night, try seeing if they are hungry before putting them back to sleep.
- Keep it quiet and dark in the room. As your baby’s sleep cycle changes, they will be easier to wake up in the middle of the night. Making sure there are no noises or excess light to wake them up can help them stay asleep and fall back to sleep if they wake up. Investing in a white-noise machine can help keep the room quiet.
- Try to stick to a routine. Sticking to a routine can help your baby stay asleep and fall asleep because their body has adjusted. Deviating from this routine can cause problems with sleep regression.
- Adjust their bedtime. If your baby typically has two naps a day but decides not to sleep for one of them, adjust their bedtime accordingly. If they have two 30 minute naps, but they missed one, put them to bed 30 minutes earlier. If a baby is overtired it can increase its crankiness.
Preventing sleep regression
Sleep regression is a natural and normal part of child development. In most cases, there is not a way to prevent sleep regression. Developmental milestones and outside influences are likely leading to your baby’s sleep regression. Try your hardest to makes sure your infant’s needs are met, keep them on a schedule, and alleviate any pain (if they are sick or teething); but if those are not the cause it could be indicating a bigger problem.
When to contact a doctor
If your baby appears to be sick contact your pediatrician. Illness or pain can be causing sleep regression. Similarly, if you have been working on a consistent sleep routine for a while and nothing seems to be helping, contact your pediatrician. They can address any concerns you may have and offer advice.
Key Takeaways on Sleep Regression
Sleep regression is when your baby deviates from their normal sleeping routine and wakes up frequently or has trouble going to sleep. It can be caused by many different factors, but staying consistent with a routine, making sure their needs are met, and keeping them pain-free are the best ways to combat it. As it has been said, sleep is an important part of your life as well as your baby’s life. Make sure you are getting enough of it and make sure you are staying pain-free by investing in a Bellefit postpartum girdle.
Bellefit postpartum girdles are designed to help your body heal after childbirth. They offer medical-grade compression and can help prevent diastasis recti. Stay pain-free, heal faster, and take care of your baby with the help of a Bellefit postpartum girdle.