Sleep begins before we are born.
From about 25 weeks, a fetus spends virtually all of the time in active dream sleep. This is known as REM sleep (the lightest level of sleep). As a fetus comes closer to full term, and for about 2 months after it is born, the amount of time spent in REM sleep is about half. Therefore, it spends 50% (sometimes more!) of its time asleep in REM sleep! (an adult spends about 25% of their time in REM sleep).
As a result, it can be harder for newborns to STAY asleep due to REM being the end part of the cycle where waking up usually follows.
If the conditions are right, a newborn can spend up to 20 hours sleeping over a 24 hour period.
Pure bliss for a new Mum, if it happens!
Communities are well educated on the importance of eating a balanced and nutritious diet. Unfortunately, not so well educated on the importance of sleep.
The good news is that finally, the medical community have recently become more vocal about the benefits of a full nights sleep (there has also been quite a bit of research into dreams and what they mean, here are some interesting facts about dreams, if you are interested!).
Dr William Derment is the founder of the Stanford University Sleep Research Research Centre, and author of ‘The Promise of Sleep’.
Due to the extensive research that Dr Derment has conducted on the topic of sleep, and as a result of him sharing his findings with the wider medical community, it is now suggested that sleep is the single most important factor in predicting how long people will live.
Sleep it is more influential than diet, exercise, or heredity.
In addition, experts believe that all levels of sleep (such as REM sleep) are necessary to help our brains organise information that was absorbed in the day.
Furthermore, it is particularly important for children, for growing brains, development and body function.
So how much sleep does your child need?
Many parents are surprised to learn that children need anywhere between 12 and 18 hours of sleep per day. The amount depends on the age of your child.
Here are some guidelines, based on different age groups:
» 0 – 3 months of age: about 16 – 18 hours per day
» 3 – 6 months of age: about 15 hours per day
» 6 – 12 months of age: about 14 hours per day
» 12 months of age and up: 12 – 13 hours per day (this continues all through adolescence!)
A good nights sleep gives children the energy to wake up each morning feeling happy, refreshed and ready to learn.
Consequently, if your child isn’t getting enough sleep, there’s a good chance that YOU aren’t getting enough either. In addition, a lack of sleep for us has been linked to everything from postpartum depression to weight gain.
The bottom line? Sleep is tremendously important. It is just as important for your child as a healthy diet or a stable home.