Recently we covered the specific sleep schedule your child should be on in order to maintain a state of being optimally well rested. Today we are discussing the science behind that schedule. There are specific times of day that your child should be sleeping and they are based on their circadian rhythms. You might be thinking, circadian WHAT?? So let’s chat first about what those rhythms are and why they matter so much when it comes to sleep.
A circadian rhythm is a biological cycle that lasts 24 hours and is essentially our “body clock.” When your baby reaches around 4 months of age, they are ready to begin a sleep schedule based on this body clock. This is the age that their bodies start producing melatonin at specific times of day, their bodies are essentially telling them “these are the times of day you should be sleeping.” When we organize their sleep schedules based on these melatonin releases, they will experience the most biologically beneficial and restorative sleep possible because they will be hitting their “sleep waves.”
Babies and children should be put down in a sleep conducive environment during these sleep waves. The circadian rhythms can be influenced by light, so it’s important to keep their rooms very, very dark in order to encourage the melatonin release.
Basically, we want them sleeping when their bodies are telling them to, sleeping at these times will set their sleep schedule and will help eliminate night wakings, early wake ups and short naps.
The Science behind the schedule…
We (sleep consultants) base the schedules we prescribe off of the circadian rhythm, the schedules aren’t arbitrary, they are designed to help your child experience the most restorative sleep possible, catch up on sleep debts and leverage their ability to self-soothe by not creating a state of being overtired from keeping them up too late.
Timing is everything…
The old adage remains true, even in regards to sleep. If your child is having issues sleeping, look to their schedule first, shifts in timing can go a long way in improving poor sleep habits.
And, as always, reach out if you want us to take the guess work out of it, we are happy to set up a get acquainted call to discuss your sleep needs.