And it’s not just so that you can catch up on the latest season of Stranger Things. Although, that’s a pretty good reason too. So what are the benefits of sleep for my baby? Your baby is constantly developing and changing. It’s hard work, and they need to sleep to be able to process everything.
Sleep has always been, and will likely continue to be, a bit of a mystery. The fact that we fall into a near unconscious state for a third of our day, every day, is actually a bit baffling when you really think about it. But it just goes to show you that whatever sleep does for us, it’s obviously vital to our health and wellbeing.
3 benefits of sleep
We’re all familiar with the fact that we have a hard time focusing on information on too little sleep. Absorbing information is only half the battle though. Firstly, your baby is always receiving new information whilst they’re awake. How to pick up a toy, how to make a new sound, how to start moving. But to really use this information, they need to consolidate it. This is the bit that takes place whilst they’re asleep.
So even if they manage to focus on what they’re learning and acquire the information, without sleep, that information won’t be properly stored in their brain. For your child, learning is their primary responsibility for the first 18-20 years of their lives, so considering how much they need to retain, the importance of a healthy sleep schedule is hard to overstate.
Ever thought that your child is constantly short-tempered and irritable? It’s worth thinking about how much sleep they’re getting, and whether it is enough. Have a look at my post here on sleep needs and awake windows for various ages.
Studies have shown that when we experience even partial sleep deprivation we may feel stress, anger, sadness, and mental exhaustion. Imagine a baby or toddler trying to process those emotions!
We can see how getting enough sleep is essential to learning and emotional well-being. But what about some more tangible benefits? Well, short of eating and breathing, you would be hard pressed to find anything with more health benefits than getting enough sleep.
Adults who regularly get between 7-9 hours of sleep see significantly lower health problems, they generally perform better at work, and they take fewer sick days. So there’s no question that sleep, while it remains mysterious, is definitely as essential part of a healthy, happy lifestyle.
But that all changes when you have a baby, right? You’ve brought a new life into this world, and you’re expected to sacrifice your sleep for a few years, in order to respond to your baby’s needs, which, for some reason, they seem to have in spades in the middle of the night.
This is, in my mind, is a bit of a myth though. Because here’s the thing; your baby needs sleep even more than you do. Those little bodies may look like they’re idle when they sleep, but there’s an absolute frenzy of work going on behind the scenes. Growth hormones are being secreted to help baby gain weight, their bodies are learning how to fight off infections and produce antibodies. All kinds of miraculous, intricate systems are at work laying the foundation for your baby’s growth and development, and they’ll continue to do so through adolescence, provided they’re given the opportunity to do so.
Nature does the heavy lifting. All that’s required of your little one is to close their eyes and sleep. Simple? Well, not always.
Benefits of sleep for the whole family
Aside from if you have a newborn, if your baby or toddler is waking up 7 or 8 times a night and crying until you come to them and rock them back to sleep, that’s not parenthood-as-usual. That’s a baby who has trouble sleeping, and it’s interfering with their body’s natural development.
So to every new parent out there, don’t accept the idea of sleep as a luxury that you’re going to have to learn to live without for a few years. If your baby’s not sleeping well, you can help them to learn. It’s not selfish, it’s not unrealistic, it’s necessary, and the benefits are huge for the entire family
If you’d like some support in teaching your little one those essential sleep skills, I’m here to help.