Baby Sleeps a Lot - When Should You Worry

Baby Sleeps a Lot: When Should You Worry?

Baby Sleeps a Lot: When Should You Worry?


Why does a baby sleep a lot?

Should you wake up a sleeping baby?

When to worry about a baby who sleeps a lot?

A baby’s sleep is vital for his physical and cerebral development. It is very different from the adult’s, but how to differentiate normal sleep from too-important sleep? The answer is in this article. 

Why does a baby sleep a lot?

Good sleep is essential for the sound development of a baby. The infant’s sleep evolves enormously between birth and the age of 3 years to be organized on a model more closely to that of the adult. From the earliest age, all the types of sleep known in adults are present (slow wave sleep, REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep), but their duration and organization are different.

Good to know: sleep allows the baby to complete its cerebral maturation and to develop its body. It is indeed during sleep that the body produces the most growth hormones.

A sleep that progressively decreases

Between birth and one month of age, a baby sleeps for 16 to 18 hours a day, then gradually decreases to about 14 hours a day by age one. However, sleep duration can vary by more or less 2 hours from one baby to another. 

Sleep duration decreases further from 1 to 3 years of age, reaching 12 to 13 hours by age 3. 

Good to know: several sleep characteristics (being a short sleeper or a heavy sleeper, being a morning or evening sleeper) depend on genetic factors but also education, environment, and emotional context. Don’t worry too much; a baby who sleeps a lot is usually quite normal!

Should a baby who sleeps a lot be woken up?

Baby Sleeps a Lot - When Should You Worry

In principle, you should not wake a sleeping baby. He will wake up if he is hungry, for example. You should also take advantage of a spontaneous awakening of the baby to give him/her something to suck or to take care of him/her.

In certain exceptional cases, however, such as premature or low-weight babies with few reserves, they must be woken up regularly to feed them frequently (in practice every 3-4 hours).

When to worry about a baby who sleeps a lot?

It is essential to differentiate between hypersomnia, where the baby sleeps longer than average, and sleepiness during the day, which can be due to insufficient sleep quality during the night, a shifted sleep time, or sleep deprivation during the night. Hypersomnia is much rarer than insomnia.

You should be concerned about a baby who sleeps a lot if:

Despite a good night’s sleep and naps, total sleep time exceeds the age-appropriate norm by 2 to 3 hours.

There are bouts of sleep under unusual conditions (meals, games…).

This is unusual for him.

Hypersomnia is associated with other symptoms: fever, pallor, stunted growth, breathing problems, and heavy snoring…

Good to know: some medications are potentially sleep-inducing (antihistamines, sedatives, anti-epileptics…).

Sleep diseases such as narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia rarely appear before age 1, most often during adolescence.

Do not forget that there are, physiologically, heavy sleepers, often family members, so there is nothing to worry about in those situations.

Hope this post has provided you with the information you were looking for. Remember to jot down a few words in the comments below. Also, let us know if you would like to read about a particular topic in baby care. We promise to get back to you quickly!

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