Sleep Regression: Everything You Need to Know
Every parent has been there. You bring your new baby home and after a couple months, you think you're starting to get the whole sleeping thing down to a science.
Next thing you know, you feel like you're back to square one.
Your baby isn't sleeping for longer than 45 minutes at a time, you aren't sleeping at all and you feel like you're going to collapse from exhaustion. Sound familiar?
What is sleep regression?
This sudden backtracking of sleep habits is called sleep regression. It feels like you've taken two giant steps in the wrong direction on the sleep training path, but it's actually very normal. So, what is sleep regression?
Sleep regression is a term used to describe when a baby or toddler who has otherwise been sleeping well suddenly starts sleeping poorly. While sleep regression ages vary from child to child, regressions are caused by progress in development and are actually a good thing. Your baby's sleep cycle is becoming more "adult" as he or she begins to enter and leave REM sleep. However, his or her overall sleep cycle is only 30 to 50 minutes, much shorter than an adult's 90-minute cycle, which explains why it's so easy for your baby to wake up. Additionally, your baby is becoming more aware of the surrounding world, which serves as a distraction from the sleep you all desperately need.
Here are a few tips on how to survive your baby's sleep regression:
The key to tackling every sleep regression in infants and toddlers that were once sleeping well is to remain consistent. Stick with the same bedtimes that were working prior to the regression and don't let up. Children in particular need consistency in order to get used to a schedule, and when your sleep depends on it, consistency is key!
Offer comfort when needed, but try to consistently enforce limits and rules to avoid creating negative sleep habits. Toddlers may ask for things at night in an attempt to delay bedtime or you may want to hold your baby until he or she falls asleep. Doing these things can create sleep associations which can make it even harder to come out of the regression. Having limits will aid in the development of healthy sleep habits.
Ask for Help
As you're trying to help your baby out of their sleep regression and into a better night's sleep, your sleep deprivation is bound to take a toll on your body and spirits. Your partner is your teammate, so lean in. And once you are both exhausted, bring in family and friends. They say it takes a village to raise a child for a reason... call your village.
So now you know, when your baby suddenly stops sleeping through the night, it's nothing to worry about. Sleep regression is a normal process in development, and with some consistency, teamwork and maybe a little extra coffee, you can get through it.