Short Naps?
By Mary Foster

Short Naps?

By Mary Foster

Short Naps?

By Mary Foster

Short Naps?

By Mary Foster

Short Naps?

It’s a common sleep challenge. The classic 40-minute nap.

It’s barely enough time to make a cup of tea or have a shower!

Why is it always 40 minutes? Sleep science.

Some babies will only sleep for 30-35 minutes and others; 45-50 minutes, but the average is 40 minutes.

First off, it’s very common for newborns to nap for variable lengths, so short naps are quite normal for newborns.

Naps typically start to lengthen between 4 and 6 months of age, but there’s a lot you can do to help that along!

Why 40 Minutes?

We all have sleep cycles. As adults, our sleep cycles are 90-120 minutes, but babies have much shorter sleep cycles, typically 40-60 minutes. At the end of a sleep cycle, we all come to a partial awakening. For most adults, we roll over, pull up the covers, or adjust our pillow and go back into our next sleep cycle. Babies often just wake up – EVEN if they still need more sleep.

It can be tough for many babies to fall back to sleep when they have a partial wake-up at the end of a sleep cycle, even if they’re still tired. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help make that easier. Read on for some helpful sleep tips!

Get the Timing Right!

If your baby goes down for a nap already overtired, you’re fighting biology there. When your little one is overtired, their body gets a surge of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which cause them to •fight going to sleep•, •sleep more restlessly•, and •wake up sooner•.

With newborns, even staying awake 5 minutes longer is enough to push them into the “overtired zone”. It just shows how important timing is!

Love Them or Hate Them, Routines Help!

Some people are “routine people” and others avoid routines (I’m not much of a routine person). The reality is, babies and children feel very comforted by the patterns that come with routines. A short, consistent routine before nap time can help your baby or toddler switch gears and transition from playtime to sleep time.

Fall Asleep Independently

There is absolutely nothing wrong with helping your baby fall asleep. Whether it’s feeding, cuddling, or rocking, if it’s working for you, that’s great. If you’re looking to extend naps (or reduce night wakings), you may want to consider helping your baby learn to fall asleep with less support.

Remember a few paragraphs above when we were talking about sleep cycles and how your little one comes to a partial wake-up at the end of a sleep cycle? If your baby or toddler needs a lot of help to fall asleep to start the nap, they will likely need the exact same help to fall back to sleep at the end of the sleep cycle. If they don’t know how to fall asleep without help to begin with, it makes sense that they don’t know how to do it in the middle of the night.

There are many different ways to help your little one learn to fall asleep with less help if you decide to make a change. 

A question from Emma!

This week, I’ve answered Emma’s question about helping her 8-month-old lengthen her afternoon nap. She’s doing a lot of the right things, but a little tweaking may help. Watch below to find out what advice I’ve given her.

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