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"Sleep begets sleep" - myth or true?!

(9 Posts)
SarahD73 Mon 19-Sep-11 11:14:41

Hi all - my 10wo really struggles at night; fights sleep when we try to put him to bed, lots of screaming, will only drop off when rocked/jigged etc. Last week we had a few good nights in terms of him sleeping for 3-4 hours between feeds overnight and going back to sleep quite easily after feeding once the initial 'going to bed' period was over (no sign of that elusive 'dropping a feed' yet though). Just had two bad nights in a row though, and it's made me wonder what I was doing differently on those days when we had 'good' nights.

I've been told two entirely different things about daytime naps - one is the 'sleep begets sleep' school of thought, i.e. the more they sleep during the day, the better they'll sleep at night. The other is to not let them sleep too much during the day as it'll make them more tired at night. Which is true?! I'm sure I'll probably get an equal number of people telling me one or the other method has worked for them but are there any actual studies or anything?!! DS always falls straight to sleep in the pram and car so I can get him to sleep really easily during the day and he'll happily sleep a lot if we're having a busy day out and about. I hate the idea that I'm getting him into bad habits or depriving him of sleep because I'm getting it wrong...

lisaneedsarest Mon 19-Sep-11 11:21:44

Hi there,
you probably will get a million different response, but I think the key for me was that they get enough sleep during the day - I think when people say too much sleep during the day is bad they mean when they sleep all day and get confused with night and day. My 3 always slept better at night if they had good sleep during the day. When they are overtired they can really, really fight sleep. I would suggest trying to get your DS to fall asleep on his own a bit more which may help (maybe put him down in his cot when he is almost asleep rather than sound asleep).

throckenholt Mon 19-Sep-11 11:40:21

Mine also slept well at night when they slept well in the day - if they were overtired then they were a nightmare.

Rule of thumb at that age was awake for max 2 hours, sometimes less.

Deliaskis Mon 19-Sep-11 14:16:42

I'm absolutely no expert but I think the reason there are conflicting messages is that it's important that young babies learn to be awake a bit during the day, as in they start to understand the difference between night and day (remembering a friend who was out of her mind with exhaustion having had a baby awake most of the night, but saying 'but she's so good in the day, she sleeps for hours'). So daytime should be the time they play, eat, etc. in the main.

On the other side, daytime sleep is v important for night time sleep, as well rested settled baby is more likely to settle well for night time sleep.

So both are right in a way, and it's a matter of degrees and context. Enough sleep in the day is important, but not to sleep allllllll day so they are wide awake at night. The difficulty is that this balance is different for every baby, enough for one is insufficient for another.

Agree with throcken max 2 hours awake at that age, my DD very often couldn't go longer than 90 minutes.


JugsMcGee Tue 20-Sep-11 15:46:36

I think it depends on the baby! Some don't seem to need naps and if they nap late in the day then they don't sleep at night. My DS is not of this variety! He's always needed naps and at 10 weeks couldn't manage much more than an hour awake before needing another nap. I used to look out for his tired cues and then swaddle and pop in his cot (he'd stopped feeding to sleep). He was having 4 naps a day and one of those was an evening nap but he still slept well at night.

He's 7mo now and is down to 2 naps, which he needs. If he gets overtired he becomes a crying mess.

debka Tue 20-Sep-11 21:26:25

I agree with the sleep begets sleep thing. Overtired babies struggle to get to sleep and are more likely to have disturbed nights. At 10wks my DDs could only do 60-75 mins between sleeps. At 7mo DD2 is still firmly on 3 sleeps a day, 2 hours apart, and sleeps 12 hrs straight at night.

Bet01 Wed 21-Sep-11 12:06:54

I agree with Juggs, seems to depend on the baby. My DS is a strange boy though and naps/no naps seem to have no effect on his nighttime sleep, which has always been crap but is getting better now, at 7 months. He will get grumpy in the day if overtired so I do try to get him to have 3 naps, but by bedtime at 7.30pm if he's missed a nap he'll be shattered and will zonk straight out. However, the rest of the night after the initial zonking out seems to me to be completely random.

fififrog Wed 21-Sep-11 19:15:44

Mine also very similar to Jugs, had 4 naps, just in the last couple of weeks this is down to 2 if they're good ones, or 3 if not: she rarely has the late afternoon one now unless she wakes up from previous nap before 2 but it's really hard to get her down for that late nap in that case (have to sling it or car).

fififrog Wed 21-Sep-11 19:17:16

Sorry, should have said she's now 6 months

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