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How To Handle A Light Sleeper

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Is your baby a light sleeper? Does she wake up every time you so much as walk past her door? Does she go from fast asleep to wide awake the second you put her into her crib?

This is one of the most common complaints I get from parents. They say that their babies are just so easy to wake, and when they do, they’re exceedingly difficult to get back to sleep.

So first of all, let me dispel a little myth.

All babies are light sleepers, and all babies are heavy sleepers. So, for that matter, are all adults.

We all go from light sleep to heavy sleep and back again several times a night. Some babies spend more time in light sleep stages before slipping into deeper sleep, and some go from light sleep to deep sleep in almost no time at all, but everyone goes through these cycles every time they shut their eyes.

The truly restorative sleep, the stuff that does us the most good, is the NREM or “deep” sleep that we get in the middle of the cycles. That’s why some people can get by on less sleep than others, because they get more NREM sleep than those of us who spend more time in light sleep stages.

So when someone claims that their baby is a light sleeper, what they probably mean is that their baby tends to spend more time in light sleep than deep sleep, because that’s the easiest stage to wake up from. It’s when we dream and are more aware of our surroundings, so external noises tend to wake us up easier.

Babies also have shorter cycles than adults, and are therefore spend nearly twice as much time in light stages of sleep than grown ups. So if you’re finding that your baby is prone to waking up a lot, it’s partly a matter of inconvenient timing.