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Hi There! Thanks for visiting the Sleepable blog. I invite you to peruse past posts or check out the latest, right here! This blog is filled with advice, tips, and tricks to help your family get the healthy, quality sleep you all deserve. Enjoy!

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Congratulations on welcoming the newest member of your family!   Your little one is an absolute bundle of joy who is absolutely perfect….but what the heck! They’re sleeping like an angel during the day and partying all night when you’re desperate for everyone to get some sleep.  If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone!  You, my friend, have found yourself tackling one of the first and very common, sleep hurdles in the newborn period: day/night confusion.

What is Day/Night Confusion?

Day/night confusion is just that.  Your little one has their days and nights mixed up.  But it’s not their fault!  Just think, in the womb, there are no clocks.  It’s dark and cozy and the jiggling motion of you hustling during the day creates the perfect environment for your baby to fall asleep.  And while I’m sure there was downtime during your day, nighttime was when most downtime occurs, and that jiggling motion disappears.  Commence the little kicks and punches as you’re calling it a night.  But it’s not just the perfect bouncy/non-bouncy environment that got your little one to sleep in the womb, but also your hormones.  Melatonin, the sleepy hormone, crosses the placenta during pregnancy and helps your little one fall asleep.

But then, baby is born and must rely on their own internal clock (circadian clock) to wake and sleep.  Unfortunately for babies, they are born with an immature circadian rhythm, and it takes some time for it to fully develop.  Cortisol secretion doesn’t start until around 8 weeks of age and melatonin until 9 weeks.  Other circadian rhythm factors such as body temperature rhythm and circadian genes don’t develop until around 11 weeks [1]. To summarize, it’s not until 4-6 months of age that an infant’s circadian rhythm is fully mature.  Every kiddo is different.  But what’s true for all newborns is that It. Takes. Time.

What do we do in the meantime?

Appropriate exposure to light.

One of the best things you can do to aid a maturing circadian rhythm is to expose your baby to light during the day and keep their nights dark and boring.  Awake periods are still very brief at this age but do feedings or diaper changes in a well-lit room.  And, for any remaining awake time, venture outside for a walk or do tummy time in a sunny room.  Having purposeful, stimulating awake time and exposure to light during the day is key.

On the flip side, keep your baby’s environment dark and boring overnight.  Use a dimly lit night light (ideally an amber color- red/orange) for any nighttime feeds and diaper changes.  Keep your encounters quiet during nighttime feeds and diaper changes ninja-like to get your little one back to their sleep space to resume sleeping as soon as possible.

Be mindful of daytime sleep length and offer consistent, full feeds during the day

As much as I wish they did, newborns and schedules don’t go together.  Feedings and sleep times vary from day to day because their circadian rhythm is still developing.  They don’t have the ability to create schedules.  But food intake is another way to aid in the development of a maturing circadian rhythm.  It stinks to wake a sleeping baby, but we want to wake that baby if it’s feeding time and they’re still snoozing.  Offering consistent (meaning every 2-3 hours or as your pediatrician recommends) and “full” feedings packs in the calories during the daytime and helps prevent frequent snacking overnight.  Usually, this means waking a baby up after 2-ish hours of sleep because they had some awake time before going down for their nap.  

Start using a bedtime routine.

Bedtime routines have been shown to provide so many developmental and behavioral benefits for infants and children (more to come on this in another blog post!).  Have your baby’s awake time before bedtime be slightly less stimulating and consist of bedtime routine-esk activities (bath/wash cloth rub down, lotion, storytime, etc.).  Your baby’s ability to associate your chosen routine with bedtime/night sleep comes a little later (around 6-8 weeks of age) but starting early will get you in the habit of offering a consistent routine.  It’s never too early (or late!) to start! 

If you need more individualized guidance on how to manage your newborn’s sleep or set up a healthy sleep foundation, book your Discovery Call today


[1] NCBI Article

Help your baby conquer day and night confusion

Hi there! I'm Maura, owner of Sleepable Solutions. I’m a mom, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and a certified pediatric sleep consultant. My passion is to educate and empower parents to help their children sleep through an individualized sleep plan based on a holistic, science-based approach.

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