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The Importance of Sleep for Babies

The Importance of Sleep for Babies

The Importance of Sleep for Babies

The Importance of Sleep for Babies

For many new parents, nap time is a welcomed period of rest, not only for the babies, for equally for themselves. Between the feedings and diaper changes, adjusting to the new realities of parenthood can be tiring. Thankfully for exhausted new moms and dads, newborns snooze the vast majority of the day, between 16 and 18 hours. Have you ever why babies need so much sleep?

In the beginning of their lives, babies don’t sleep exclusively during the night. They lack what’s called the circadian rhythm, which you can think of as a biological clock that synchronizes daily activities with the internal clock of your brain. This internal clock is highly sensitive to light changes, hence why we sleep when there’s darkness and wake when there is light.

For babies, the internal clock has yet to develop, as they’ve spent most of their lives without light. For this reason, their sleep tends to be sporadic and out-of-sync with daylight.

However, as time goes on, babies will naturally sleep less and less, going from 16-18 hours per day as newborns to 13-14 hours daily within 6 months’ time. Moreover, during their development, they sleep more and more during the night itself, which is good news for their sleep-deprived parents.

It is important to note that there is inter-individual variability in babies’ sleep needs, regularity, and awakenings, which is why it’s important to communicate with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.

As to the actual functions of sleep, it has shown to be vital for both physical and cognitive development. Among the processes that are enhanced by sleep, you can find physical growth, memory consolidation, and language development. In the case of physical growth, it is caused by an increased production of growth hormone whilst babies rest. This increased secretion during sleep continues throughout childhood, and is also influenced by other factors, including nutrition and genetics.

Perhaps, in addition to telling children to eat vegetables to grow strong, we should also encourage them to get some shut eye. And to be honest, the same probably goes for us.

*Disclaimer: The information in this article is only intended for educational and entertainment purposes. It is not to be used as medical advice.*


Tham, E. K., Schneider, N., & Broekman, B. F. (2017). Infant sleep and its relation with cognition and growth: a narrative review. Nature and science of sleep9, 135–149.


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