Your baby will NEVER sleep through the night. Yes, you heard me-a Sleep Consultant-right. I said it. Your baby will never sleep straight through the night.
And neither will you, for that matter.
In fact, pretty much anyone who isn’t heavily sedated before going to bed can expect to wake up multiple times in the night.
Now this isn’t due to stress, caffeine, lack of exercise, or any other factors that can contribute to a lousy night’s sleep. It is a normal, natural part of the human sleep cycle.
We are all familiar with the various stages of sleep from our own experience. You might not be able to identify each of them, but I am certain that you have felt the difference between waking from a light sleep and a deep one.
Simply put, when we fall asleep, we spend a little while in a light stage of sleep and gradually progress into a deeper one. We stay there for a little while and then gradually re-emerge into the lighter stage, and when we do, there’s a good chance that we will wake up.
That all sounds great, right? You fall asleep around 11 pm, hit that deep stage by midnight, hang out there for six hours or so, and then start to come back to the surface around 6:00 or 7:00 am, gradually waking up refreshed and ready to face the day.
Except the whole process only takes about an hour and a half.
From start to finish, going from light sleep to deep sleep and back again takes between 90–110 minutes.
Luckily for us (and for those who have to interact with us), the process repeats itself pretty easily. Either we will wake up for a minute or two and fall right back to sleep, or we might not even really break the surface at all.
Ideally, this happens five or six times in a row each night. We get a restful, restorative snooze in the night, and we reap all the benefits of it throughout the day.
But enough about us grown-ups. What about our little ones?
Infants, despite their increased need for sleep, have a much shorter sleep cycle than adults. On average, an infant goes from light sleep to deep sleep and back again in an astounding 50 minutes. So whomever coined the term, “Sleep like a Baby” was clearly misinformed.
This is where the essential element of sleep training comes into play, we (Sleep Consultants) don’t teach your child to stay asleep, or spend more time in any one stage of the sleep cycle.
On the other hand, we teach your baby to fall asleep independently initially, and when they wake up we help them to repeat the process.
That’s it! That really is the heart of what sleep consultants teach. We help your baby to accept these wake-ups as a non-event.
Once your baby has learned the skills they need to fall back to sleep on their own, they will wake up after a sleep cycle, their brain will signal them to go back to sleep, and that’s exactly what they’ll do.
There are a few reasons why I feel it is so important for parents to understand this.
First of all, I want you to know that sleep consultants don't do anything that actually influences or alters your baby’s natural sleep. We are simply giving them the skills to fall asleep independently after they wake up, which, as you probably know by now, they’re going to do multiple times a night.
Second, one of the biggest arguments you might hear from critics of sleep training is, “Babies are supposed to wake up at night!”
And that’s absolutely, 100% correct. Babies, just like adults, are supposed to wake up at night. In fact, it would take some powerful sedatives to prevent it.
The goal is to give your baby the ability to get back to sleep without any help from mom, a pacifier, or any other exterior source that might not be readily available in the middle of the night.
So if you’re wondering whether or not sleep training is going to put your child at an increased risk for SIDS, or if it will somehow alter their natural sleep patterns, or make them nocturnal, or damage them in any way, I can assure you with the full support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, that it will not.
What sleep training WILL do is keep your child calm and assured when they wake up in the night, and help to ensure that they get the sleep they need to be happy and healthy.
Although your little one is going to wake up numerous times a night, every night, they can quickly and easily learn the skills to get back to sleep on their own. It will only seem as though they’re sleeping straight through the night. And I don't know of any parent who wouldn't welcome that!