Education Blog

Baby Won’t Sleep? Tips by New Sleep Research

September 23, 2021

Baby who is awake keeps their parents awake. This can lead to a baby being anxious and cranky during the day. Quality baby sleep is vital for the baby’s early development and growth. During sleep, 3/4th growth hormone come into place for babies. This makes it an excellent topic for research that is providing new insight into how parents can help their babies sleep better and stay asleep longer.

New Insight on Screens and Sleep Duration

In the June 2021 issue, The BMJ published research that has strengthened our understanding of the effects of screen time on sleep patterns and sleep duration.

Researchers from Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine Department of Biomedical Data Science examined the sleep habits and mother-reported screen time of 550 infants from a diverse racial and socioeconomic sample. 67 percent of the babies were Black and 54.5 percent came to the study from families earning less than $20,000.0000 annually.

Researchers looked at the data and found that more screen was associated to less night-time sleep when compared to babies who were not exposed to it before 12 months. This was especially true for children who were exposed to TV and DVD.

Study authors explain that an infant who viewed 1 hour of TV+DVD over the study period slept on average 9.20 hours per day compared to 9.60 hours for an infant who sat without screen time.

Although it may not seem like much, this can disrupt sleep patterns and cause problems.

These results are based on a systematic review of 31 sleep studies that was published in the February 2020 issue Sleep Medicine Reviews. Screen time in Infants and toddlers was not associated with multiple sleep outcome. This was according to UK researchers.

In contrast, toddlers and preschoolers who spent more time outdoors and engaged in high-intensity physical activity were found to have better sleep outcomes.

Baby Sleep Cycle

Dr. Sara Huberman Carbone, a pediatrician, explains that screens can disrupt sleep by emitting blue and white light like the sun. She says that this light can cause a shift in our circadian rhythms, which could lead to a delay in the release melatonin, our sleeping hormone.

The light from screens can trick the body into believing it is daytime, which in turn delays sleep. Playing games or watching TV can be very stimulating for toddlers. This makes it difficult for them to relax. Interruption also occurs in sleep.

Carone recommends reading books to parents looking for something to do with their infant or baby at bedtime. She says that reading books with your child can help boost literacy and language and connect you with your toddler. A routine is key to healthy sleep.

A consistent bedtime, with a simple routine of bath, brush teeth and book before bed is advisable. It can help get a good night’s rest.

Massage to Increase Baby Sleep Quantity and Quality

Numerous new studies have shown that infant massage can be an effective addition to a screen-free, bedtime routine. A 2021 study entitled The Effects of baby massage on sleep quality in infants aged 1-7 months shows some new insights into baby massage.

Researchers in Indonesia discovered that six out seven infants who had poor sleep quality, 80% of them, experienced improvements in their sleep quality after massage.

These results are similar to those from a Malaysian study that examined the effects of massage on infant sleep. Malaysian Journal of Medical Research got study published. It found that baby sleep improved by an hour after pre-bedtime massage.

These studies have a major drawback: the sample sizes were very small. It is possible that massage can help your baby relax and provide quality rest.

Connection Between Massage And Sleep

According to the researchers from Indonesia, infant massage stimulates the activity in the Vagus Nerve, which improves respiration. It also strengthens the immune system. Infant massage also teaches babies about their bodies and increases the flow oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

Dr. Carone stresses the benefits of massage, which contribute to quality sleep. She says that massage is a great way for parents and children to bond through skin-toskin contact. It can reduce infant crying and relieve gas discomfort.

Babies may need to be accustomed to massage for a while before they can make it a part of their bedtime routine. Bedtime will be more painful if you get them excited instead of calmed.

These new insights can help parents to think of new ways to combat sleep deficit. However, some babies are just not good at sleeping. Nearly all children experience a period where they aren’t able to sleep well. It is important to find strategies that offer at least an incremental improvement in quality and duration of sleep.