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Sleep like a baby
The old saying goes, "Whoever said 'sleep like a baby', probably doesn't have one." I attended the Johnson's Baby sleep event today and learn some of their top tips for making just that happen.
Dr Alex Bartle of Sleep Well Clinic Christchurch spoke to editors of New Zealand baby and children's media titles today over brunch at the Wintergardens pavillion about the findings from research into baby sleep.
There's a huge relationship between maternal and baby sleep. Professor Jodi Mindell (USA) looked at sleep patterns of mothers and babies and found that Australian and New Zealand mothers had a 10.30pm average bedtime, awoke at 6.45am and had a total sleep time of 7.01 hours with 0 - 3 year olds.
They found, concerningly, that 21% of mums with 0-3 year olds were "not confident;" a problem prevalent in today's society of nuclear families where we haven't seen babies being raised and where mums often find ourselves being very isolated.
So this Internet-based tool at www.babycenter.com.au/johnsonsbaby/bedtime might be able to help mums with customized sleep profiling, giving suggestions and specific tips, based upon the answers you give.
Parents lose 400-750 hours sleep in the first year of having a baby, which is 50 - 94 full eight hour nights!
There's a correlation between sleep loss and increase in appetite. Fatigue leads to a desire to eat. New mums are three times more likely to weigh an extra 11 pounds by baby's first birthday. There's a correlation also with sleep deprivation and post-natal depression which certainly is obvious in many ways; sleep deprivation shares many similar characteristics with depression, especially fatigue. Sleep deprivation also weakens the immune system, elevates blood pressure, and increases inflammation. Being woken at 11 or 12pm in the first couple of hours of your own sleep - when you haven't had any REM - is worse than at 4 or 5am when you're in REM deep sleep.
It's a good idea (once baby is over 3 months old, past its 'fourth trimester') to take baby out in the morning into nature (NOT a shopping mall!) to bright nature light and plenty of blue and green colours, which suppresses melatonin and helps their sleep cycle when it becomes night.
Some babies respond well to having a tee-shirt of Mum's tucked into bed with them to smell of Mum and reassure them she is close by.
Another tip is to bring dinner earlier to say 4pm rather than 5.30pm if baby is showing signs of tiredness at the so-called witching hour of 5pm.
Sleep is better when mothers added a three-step bedtime routine:
1. nice warm bath
2. massage for 5 minutes or so after a warm bath (needs to be quite firm to be any good) to improve seratonin levels in the brain
3. quiet activities e.g. a familiar book, not one that's too stimulating with bright colours and flaps and so on. Routine is the key; doing the same thing over and over again.
Megan Robinson 27 June 2012
Photos by Abby Dance.