Understanding Your Baby's Sleep

NREM Sleep (Non-rapid eye movement)


As we start to fall asleep, you'll enter NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. You'll be in this stage for 75% of the night. Here's what your body will be doing in the different stages of NREM:

Stage 1

This is the transition phase between wakefulness and sleep. It's a light sleep which you can be easily woken up from it. Stage 1 accounts for about 5% of total sleep time.

It's normal to wake up during this sleep phase, and as adults we can go back to sleep. This waking can be a problem in children and babies who can't settle themselves back to sleep alone.

Stage 2

This is a light sleep and accounts for 50% of your total sleep. During this stage, your breathing and heart rate are regular and your body temperature drops.

Stage 3 

This is the deepest stages of sleep and accounts for around 21% of your night's sleep. Your blood pressure drops, your muscles are relaxed and energy is restored.

It's hard to wake up from Stage 3 sleep and you may feel groggy and disorientated if your little one wakes you up during this time. Deep sleep is when some children experiences night terrorssleep walking, or bed wetting.


REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)

This REM sleep is the final stage of sleep and accounts for about 25% of your night's sleep. In babies, it makes up about 50% of their sleep.

During this stage, you'll have bursts of rapid eye movements, darting back and forth, up and down. This is the stage of sleep in which most dreaming occurs. It's not known why these eye movements happen but could be related to visual images of dreams.

REM first happens about 90 minutes after falling asleep and then recurs every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night.

Research has shown that REM (dream) sleep is important for mental processing and storage of information and the transfer of events from short term memory into long term memory. If your dream sleep is constantly interrupted it can affect your performance the next day and you may feel tired, irritable, and forgetful.

During the night, your body will follow a pattern of alternating REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. This cycle repeats itself about every 90 minutes in adults and every 50 minutes in babies.

The Sleep Cycle

Things you need to know about your child's sleep cycle:-

- Once they are 3 months of age each cycle lasts about 90 minutes.

- Your child is most likely to wake between cycles.

- It takes about 10 minutes for children and older babies to fall into a deep sleep.


For more information please check out Netmums article on Sleep.

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