Sleep and development, however, like adults, the sleep pattern for babies is highly punctuated. They often wake up after sleep bouts ranging from 30 minutes to four-five hours.
What we often dismiss as a simple activity undertaken by babies, is in fact, a crucial way in which internal development takes place. Much research has gone into the importance of sleep for any newborn.
Babies also have the same sleep pattern stages like adults. But unlike adults newborns spend most of their sleep time in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase – a light easily disturbed sleep. Hence, the probability of them waking up suddenly is highly and often unpredictable.
In the active sleep stage, or REM phase, the baby’s body relaxes but the mind stays active. During this phase, the baby’s development continues with neurological activity occurring rapidly in the brain. However, there is no concrete answer or experiment to prove what transpires when the baby lapses into deep sleep.
When compared with other mammals, humans are the most neurologically immature and unprepared to function when they are born. Although they are born with neurons or brain cells, development and co-ordination between senses take place only during the initial days after delivery.
Experts suggest that during sleep the brain stays busy, building and strengthening connections between the left and right hemispheres of the cerebrum.
A good night’s sleep is believed to be instrumental in ensuring the development of the Central Nervous System of the baby. It also facilitates better maturation of the infants’ brains and consolidation of their memories. Research also shows that babies with sound sleep have higher cognitive scores.
On a more day-to-day level, babies with smoother sleep patterns are known to display an easier temperament. On an average, they come across to be more approachable, less Distractible, more adaptable, more cheerful, and less irritable and fussy.
Also, in the long run, sleep deprivation in the newborn can lead to stunted growth, weight problems, low attention span, behavioral problems and delayed learning abilities.
It may be hard for parents to get accustomed to the baby’s sleeping pattern at the onset, but with time parents get used to their child’s routine. And then timing their activities to complement with the baby’s erratic schedule, becomes easier.