Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Newborn Baby : Sleeping Cycle

How to Help Baby Adapt to 24-Hour Day

Make baby a part of your daily routine. Researchers argue that social cues may have the greatest influence on newborn sleep patterns (Custodio et al 2007; Lorh et al 1999). When mothers include their newborns in their daily activities, newborn sleep patterns adapt more rapidly to the 24-hour day. One study took continuous measurements of mother-infant activity patterns for four months after birth. Newborns who were active at the same time of day as their mothers quickly adapted to the daily schedule (Wulff and Siegmund 2002). 

Reduce stimulation at night. When baby wakes for night time feedings, keep activity to a minimum. Make as little noise as possible, and avoid moving your baby around. Ideally, you want to avoid waking her “all the way up.” But if that’s not possible, at least try to minimize the hustle and bustle.

Expose your newborn to natural lighting patterns. Light cues may not influence newborn sleep patterns as much as social cues do. But they are still important. In a study of preterm infants kept in hospital wards, babies exposed to natural lighting patterns—brighter during the dark, darker during the night—adapted to the 24-hour cycle more quickly than those exposed to constant, low levels of light (Rivkees et al 2004). In another study of full-term infants, babies who were exposed to more afternoon light slept better at night (Harrison 2004). 

Try infant massage. One study reports that newborns who received 14 days of massage therapy (beginning when they were about 10 days old) showed more mature sleep patterns in later weeks. At 12 weeks, the massaged infants had higher levels of nocturnal melatonin (Ferber 2002).

Breastfeed if you can. Breast milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is used by the body to manufacture melatonin. Tryptophan levels rise and fall according to maternal circadian rhythms, and when infants consume tryptophan before bedtime, they fall asleep faster (Steinberg et al 1992). It’s therefore possible that breastfeeding helps newborn sleep patterns synchronize with the 24-hour day (Cubero et al 2005). This hypothesis was tested by feeding infants formula fortified with varying concentrations of tryptophan. When infants were given low levels of tryptophan during the day and high concentrations at night (mimicking the natural fluctuations of breast milk), infants fell asleep faster at night and got more sleep overall (Cubero et al 2007). 

Stick close to baby when she falls asleep. There isn’t yet enough research to prove the point, but it’s possible that sleeping close to your baby may help her develop circadian rhythms. A study of preterm infants reports changes in infant body temperature were synchronized with peaked when babies were co-sleeping with parents (Thomas and Burr 2002).

Good luck parents!

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