For new parents who are struggling to deal with the night-time sleeping patterns of their babies—don’t worry, it’s actually a good thing if they wake up throughout the night.
So say scientists at the University of Bristol, who advise parents not to apply their ‘21st century expectations’ to their offspring’s sleep schedule, and to not worry that they are not sleeping through the night.
Peter Fleming, Professor of Infant Health and Developmental Psychology at the University of Bristol, told Buzzfeed that from a biological point of view ‘what the baby is doing is completely normal and sensible’.
He explains that human babies are not supposed to sleep for long periods i.e. throughout the night, and that it is not actually good for them.
‘There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there is any benefit to anybody from having a child that sleeps longer and consistently.’
The National Childbirth Trust’s guidance explains that babies wake up throughout the night because they have small stomachs and thus require constant feeding throughout a 24-hour period. Therefore, a waking baby is a good thing, because it means it is likely to get the right amount of food throughout the day.
There is also the matter of homeostatic and circadian rhythms. The homeostatic process is essentially a sleep drive i.e. the more time we spend being awake, the stronger the drive to go to sleep.