sleep begets sleep...really?! - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-20-2010, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We've probably all heard the phrase sleep begets sleep, and read about how if our babies go to sleep earlier in the evening they'll likely sleep better and longer. How the more frequently they nap, the longer their naps will become.

Well, I have not found this to be the case at all! My baby is 12 weeks old, and we're trying to establish a regular bedtime for him. I would love for it to be on the earlier side, like many babies, around 7-8pm. But I have noticed that whenever he goes down before 9:00, he is up thrashing about really early the next morning. Yesterday, for example, he just wasn't sleepy enough for his late afternoon nap, and then crashed around 8:30. This morning he was up before 6 (if he goes to bed later, he'll be up by around 7 but we can keep him in bed until 8 sometimes).

So, what gives? Are we doing something wrong? I would love it if we could get Max down for bed by 8:00, but every time we've tried so far, he wakes up way too early, I'm talking 5am here ~ I know some of you are happy to get up at 5 or 6, but I'd like to sleep a little longer if possible. I know you're not supposed to change the bedtime drastically from one day to the next, so we've been trying to avoid this too.

If you've noticed that sleep really does beget sleep, then please help us to realize this too, it would be so nice!!!

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Old 08-20-2010, 12:10 PM
 
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Cecilia still goes to bed around 8-9 at 4.5 months. I have been reassured by friends with older babies that an earlier bedtime does occur, but that it might not be for a while, so I guess it may just be too early in your case?

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Old 08-20-2010, 01:02 PM
 
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DS is 9 months old and goes to sleep between 8-8:30 most nights, waking between 6-7. He usually sleeps great at night, so we are thankful for that, though I think he could use more nighttime sleep and his naps have never been consistent. Earlier this week I tried putting him down about thirty minutes early and he was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5:30, so I'm not sure that's the answer.

Anyways, one suggestion my ped had was to wait until fall, when the days get shorter and the time changes, and use that as an opportunity to get him to bed earlier. He said light/dark is the strongest sleep cue we have. So, I think we'll give that a try when the time comes.
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:10 PM
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the easlier bedtimes come a little later, i think. at 3 months we were still going to bed at 10ish and waking up at 9. i loved it!
sometimes around 4 months she pushed her bedtime up to 8ish and started getting up at 7. i know most people in the real world get up even earlier than that but i was not liking it. and the summer's early sun wasn't helping. i ended up hanging sheets up over her windows and blinds just to block out more light and now on a good day we'll get up at 8 or so. i also have a small basket of stuff in her crib and she talks to herself and dabbles in it for a half hour or so so i can lay around some more.
i've found that sleep adage true in the sense that if our day gets really messed up for sleep (not enough the night before or a missed or crappy nap) then there's more waking that night (usually she sttn but if she's had bad sleep she'll wake up a couple hours after having been put down and be super crabby and have to be nursed back down.)

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Old 08-20-2010, 01:17 PM
 
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This is completely true for my children, except I never really kept track during the baby phase. Definitely true at least for toddlers & up. Three months is young yet, and things are changing so fast for them, like at 4/5 months reflux can peak but you think it's a tooth or a bad routine... Babies just require some patience.

Once I described utilizing "sleep begets sleep" with a baby to someone as...working on the amount of sleep instead of the routine/method. I just get baby to sleep however I can in order to keep her cheerful & used to getting lots of sleep. Eventually a routine emerges.

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Old 08-20-2010, 01:41 PM
 
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My daughter is almost six months old, and it's generally true for her. She doesn't necessarily sleep longer but she sleeps better. If she gets all her regular naps in and gets a decent amount during the day, she'll go down at bedtime without issue. If she skips or the naps get messed up she's very difficult to settle at bedtime.

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Old 08-20-2010, 03:20 PM
 
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My daughter is almost six months old, and it's generally true for her. She doesn't necessarily sleep longer but she sleeps better. If she gets all her regular naps in and gets a decent amount during the day, she'll go down at bedtime without issue. If she skips or the naps get messed up she's very difficult to settle at bedtime.
My DD is 10 months old and I agree with this statement. If she gets both naps for a decent length of time during the day she will go down at 7-7:30 at night no problem. If she misses one or they were short she will fuss a lot longer and sometimes will not stay asleep at night.

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Old 08-20-2010, 03:26 PM
 
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I think this is made up by parents whose children happen to naturally need early bedtimes. I spent so much energy trying to get DD to bed early like everyone said was the right way to do things. Once I gave up and accepted her late bedtime everyone was much happier.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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In the case of DS2, we worked on the quantity/frequency of sleep more than a specific set bedtime, and in that perspective, sleep really did beget sleep.

The only thing I've ever gotten from a 'sleep training' book was Weissbluth's "two hour rule". A baby under six months or so should never be awake more than two hours at a time, and really in some cases an hour and a half is enough. We weren't strict about exact times (since some naps would be longer than others) or location, but we did start nursing/bouncing/etc. and DS2 would drop off pretty easily - as long as we were within that 1.5.-2 hour window.

It was only true up to about 6m for us, but he remained relatively easy to put to sleep even after he dropped to only two naps a day. He would sleep until maybe 8 or 9 AM (with breaks for milkies). It wasn't until after a year that his sleep went to hell.

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Old 08-20-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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My baby's natural bedtime gradually moved up over time from 10-11 to 7ish over the last 6 months. I didn't try to push an earlier bedtime. Just follow your baby's cues, it will most likely get earlier with time. And it is true for mine, the more he sleeps, the more he sleeps...but that isn't really referring to his bedtime, more just overall hours, nap and night-time sleep, like pp said.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:10 PM
 
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The only thing I've ever gotten from a 'sleep training' book was Weissbluth's "two hour rule". A baby under six months or so should never be awake more than two hours at a time, and really in some cases an hour and a half is enough. We weren't strict about exact times (since some naps would be longer than others) or location, but we did start nursing/bouncing/etc. and DS2 would drop off pretty easily - as long as we were within that 1.5.-2 hour window.
I am not a fan of sleep training at all, but this is so true for my Cecilia. She's 4.5 months now and she is still very firmly in the 2 hours awake rule, and sometimes (especially for the first nap after waking up), it's only 1 hour. I think she might be in the throes of switching from 3 naps to 2 now, because often one of the 3 naps is only 30 minutes or so, but for now, she just can't stay awake any longer! I've started getting her ready for sleep (diaper/swaddle/milkies) about 15 minutes before the 2 hour awake mark, and it works really, really well. Catching her before she gets very fussy means a much smoother time for both of us.

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Old 08-20-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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We are still trying to figure all of this out too (at 6 months no less!!) and i honestly have noticed that it is better when she goes to bed at 8 as opposed to 7 sometimes because she really only has a set number of hours that she will sleep at night. So if i put her down at 7 she wakes up at 5:30 but if i put her down at 8 she wakes at 6:30 which is more more reasonable. I haven't found the while sleep begets sleep thing to be true at all for my DD.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:33 PM
 
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DD didn't start getting tired (actually showing tired signs) early (7 or 8) until she was about 6 months old. Until then she was quite content to stay up later and still slept in until about 9am. For the first 3 months she napped a lot and for long periods of time so I don't think she got tired as early. Now she naps less and for short periods of time.

So I guess sleep begets sleep isn't necessarily true for us. However, I do notice if she has good naps she does sleep better at night!

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Old 08-20-2010, 11:04 PM
 
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I have no advice, but I wanted to say that your LO is so adorable!
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:16 PM
 
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My LO will be 11 MO next Thursday, and she still sleeps better with a later bedtime. I'm working on moving it earlier and earlier because my older dd will start school soon. I think it just depends on the baby.

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Old 08-21-2010, 04:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have no advice, but I wanted to say that your LO is so adorable!


Aw, thanks!

What I've learned from reading the responses here is that the phrase sleep begets sleep can be more about quality than quantity. If I think of it that way it makes a lot more sense. And it seems pretty normal that at his age my LO is keeping the hours he is. Still, I'd love it if he would quit the 5am wake ups!

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Old 08-21-2010, 06:45 AM
 
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DD goes down at 6-6:30pm, has a catnap and a second feed and is down for the night at 8pm. She wakes at 4am but rolls straight back to sleep after a quick feed. She's 3 months. We call that going down at 6pm even though we know we're going to see her again.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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hum. I call shenanigans.
On a good day DS gets up about 6:30, naps about 10-11something, then goes to bed about 8:30pm. If he gets a 2nd nap in about 2, he will go to bed about 9pm, if he tries to nap later than 2, hes up until 10 or later when I take him to bed with me.

I have tried the more sleeping for more sleep, but unless your LO isn't getting enough sleep, I don't think it works. I could see it working on older children, but babies and toddlers, not so much.

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Old 08-21-2010, 12:56 PM
 
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My son didn't begin to nap very well until he got his first good night's sleep in bed with my husband and I.

From that point on, he then napped better during the day, and slept better at night.

Prior to that he was just overtired and unable to sleep well.
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Old 08-21-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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My best sleeper my third would go to bed at 5:30 pm. He would wake a couple times at night to nurse but sleep tell 10-11am. I am trying to do the same with this one and she does seems to crash out long around 5pm. to bad at 3 1/2 weeks she has a cold she caught from a sibling who caught it from a relative that brought their sick kid to see the baby...grrrr

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Old 08-22-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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My DD's bedtime naturally went from 10:30-8:00ish on her own between 3-4mo. This seems to be a pretty normal sleep progression that happens to a lot of babies. I think that the term "sleep begets sleep" is more about quality than quantity as well. If your baby gets good naps during the day, then he/she is more likely to fall asleep easier at bedtime. An over-tired or over-stimulated baby can be very difficult to get down.

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Old 08-22-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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12 weeks is very early in the sleep development process. Your baby's brain is still sorting out being out in the world, and its too early to expect the sleep/wake cycles of an older baby.

My mom has a book on sleep studies that has a really interesting chart. It shows babies' sleep and wake times as dark and light bars on a 24-hour timestrip, progressing from birth to 6 months (?). It illustrates how at birth, they're just on and off, up and down, in short amounts, but that their awake time and asleep time gradually coalesce into longer stretches, most noticeably over the first 16 weeks. It really takes at least 4-5 months for a non-newborn pattern to stabilize, if not a bit longer. At 12 weeks you're still far from that point.

My first slept at least 3 hours at a stretch at night from birth, though he was an evening cluster feeder until about 9 weeks old. One night at about 9.5 weeks, he cluster fed and cluster fed ... and then fell deeply asleep around 9pm ... didn't awake when I put him down in the bassinet, and then slept nearly 5 hours. By 11 weeks he'd sleep about 6 hours straight, usually from about 11pm-5am. And by 4 months, when I went back to work, he was regularly doing 9pm-5am. And by the time he was a year old, that bedtime had moved back, on its own, to about 8pm. Sometimes it would look like he was not sleepy, but when we put him in jammies and nursed and rocked and did stories, he'd fall asleep. And if we ignored bedtime because he seemed spry? Well, one or two nights was okay - we could be flexible about it. But if it got ignored too long, it was clearly an issue. He was miserable, acted sleepy all afternoon but wouldn't nap at his usual times, and was generally negatively affected by it.

His sister didn't sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch until she was 15 months old -- but at the same time, she made it clear fairly early on that she needed to start one of those stretches by about 7pm. Again, if you pushed to keep her up, she'd stay up, but if we did it too many days in a row we saw a difference in her sleep cycles and behavior.

So I do think at some level that "sleep begets sleep," in the sense that I believe that "overtired" is a real thing, that babies and small children can get so wound up if they are kept up too long that they then cannot sleep when their body really needs it. So I think it may be more "Lack of sleep begets lack of sleep."

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Old 08-22-2010, 01:28 PM
 
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I really don't think the sleep begets sleep thing is aimed at young infants, certainly not as a way of scheduling the timing of sleep. They go through so many developmental phases so quickly...

But it is most definitely true of toddlers and kids! It still doesn't mean they sleep when you think they should. But if my ds skipped a nap, he would get wired and cranky and have a hard time going to bed. He would also sleep more fitfully and be more prone to nightmares, insomnia, and night terrors. It was better if he had a late nap and stayed up late than skip a nap and go to bed early.

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Old 08-22-2010, 02:28 PM
 
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Aw, thanks!

What I've learned from reading the responses here is that the phrase sleep begets sleep can be more about quality than quantity. If I think of it that way it makes a lot more sense. And it seems pretty normal that at his age my LO is keeping the hours he is. Still, I'd love it if he would quit the 5am wake ups!
I think your babe is adorable too!!!

And yes, quality over quantity!!!!!! And, the 5am wake ups may not last too much longer. Also, if you can keep the room dark, and restful even though baby is awake, you may be able to kind of 'teach' her that 5am is sleeping time. Theres no reason to get up (are you nursing? I don't remember?) so just stay in bed with her!
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Old 08-24-2010, 10:35 PM
 
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No matter what age she was, my daughter woke up at the butt crack of dawn no matter WHAT time I put her to bed. I tried putting her to bed at 7:00, thinking that by putting her to bed at 10:00 I was screwing up. Then she just got up at 3:00 am. I put her to bed at 8:00 now, she gets up at 5:00 am.

She just doesn't follow any of those sleep "rules", and at 19 months old, I don't think she ever will. I'm just counting down the days until she'll be old enough to get up and read a book while mama gets some SLEEP.
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:32 PM
 
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Well the way I understand 'sleep begets sleep' is that if your child isn't getting enough sleep, they need more sleep to sleep better/longer. If they ARE getting enough sleep but the bed/wake times are too early or late, that's a different issue.

My 18mo DS sleeps best if he goes to bed at 11pm. He will sleep 11+ hours if he goes to bed at that time, and take a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon. If I try to get him to bed earlier & by rare chance, succeed, he wakes up too early. I think you really have to experiment to find the best time for YOUR child, I don't buy into the 'kids need to be in bed by 8pm' thing because for us it's simply NOT true -- though I don't doubt that many, maybe even most kids do best with an early bedtime!

Also people sleep lighter during the second half of the night -- and things like sunlight, household noises, etc. can waken you more easily. So if his 'light sleep' period happens to coincide with when the sun is coming up, when the a/c kicks in loudly, when another family member gets up for work, etc. then it will be harder for him to stay asleep. So you may need to get room-darkening shades or all-night white noise to overcome that...

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Old 08-24-2010, 11:41 PM
 
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DD is 10 months and we've just given in and decided to put her down at 9 p.m.--way later than the books say and not what we were comfortable with. It just seems to be her preferred sleep time.

Since we've done that, she's been going down in 15 minutes (instead of 30 to an hour) and getting up just 2-3 times at night with a wake-up of about 9 or 9:15 in the morning. I figure as she gets older we'll adjust her bedtime to a more reasonable time.

(Now I just hope I didn't jinx myself by posting this!)

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Old 08-25-2010, 01:07 AM
 
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For some babies, maybe. For us putting DD to bed before 10pm is a mistake. She'll be up and MAD, scared, screaming, or, rarely, full of vim (which changes to when I'm not ready to hop up and play) at midnight or 3am and not be ready to go back down for 2+ hours.
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Old 08-25-2010, 03:27 AM
 
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At 12 weeks, my baby definitely needed an early bedtime. I'd try to keep her up until 6:30 to see her dad but that didn't work well. 6 or even 5:30 was a much better bedtime (obviously, she was still waking at night to feed a few times.) Can't remember when she got up--probably on the early side--but the earlier bedtime prevented evening meltdowns.
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