Sleeping through the night (STTN). If you’re the parent of a child under the age of 2, it’s a phrase you either love, loathe, or just keep praying you will get to be able to say one day.
The elusive “sleeping through the night” is also something that has a lot of myths around it, and we’re here to clear some of those up. We’ve brought on Sleep Expert and Coach, Carolina Romanyuk from Preconceive, a company dedicated to helping mothers through all the trials of motherhood with classes and private appointments to assist in breastfeeding, emotional support, sleeping and everything in between. Carolina breaks down what exactly sleeping through the night really means, how to eventually get to that goal, and busts the myths on how to make it happen.
What does STTN really mean?
STTN means sleeping through the night. This term simply means that when we are going through a sleep cycle transition at night, roughly every 90 minutes or so, we experience a light stage of arousal. It’s a built-in safety mechanism we are equipped with to make sure that when we fall asleep and have this partial arousal that our environment hasn’t changed. So STTN for a child simply refers to when they go through a sleep cycle transition that they can place themselves back to sleep without the need of a prop. Such as a bottle, breast, rocking, etc.
How many hours should a baby be asleep for to be considered STTN?
This all depends on the age of the child. Here is a useful chart from the National Sleep Foundation on the amount of sleep children need.
At what age can or does a baby start STTN?
If a child doesn’t have an association, such as a need for a prop to help them fall asleep AND their sleep schedule is synchronized to their biological rhythms which naturally elevates the melatonin (sleep hormone), then babies can be sleeping beautifully by 4-5 months. This does include a night feeding though for some. So as you see, there are many factors that need to be in place to have a foundation set and that is where working with a Certified Sleep Consultant comes in!
What are some sleep techniques you can do or start to help your baby sleep better and longer?
For newborns under 4 months, swaddling is wonderful because it controls the Moro reflex (startling reflex). Don’t try and place them on any specific regimented schedule because children under 4 months old are biologically immature. Once they are 4 months, adjusted age, you can begin with one of the simplest factors: Making sure the sleep environment is perfect by having it healthy and conducive to sleep. This includes a white noise machine like the Shhh…sleep machine to maximize sleep by drowning out any outside noise and also when the child is going from one cycle to the next during sleep, they can transition nicely. Also, black-out curtains are a must because our internal sleep clock works off of light and dark. Light is your enemy when you are trying to sleep. Light suppresses your sleep hormone, darkness is your savior as it elevates melatonin. In addition, keeping track of their sleep patterns just like you keep track of when they have a wet diaper and how much they eat. Sleeping patterns should be no different.
Does breastfeeding or bottle-feeding affect this?
It only affects children past 9 months unless there is a medical need for the feeds. Night feedings past this time create fragmented sleep which is the definition of sleep deprivation. Some pediatricians recommend eliminating night feedings earlier on, such as 4 months. If you are planning to eliminate night feeds, first get the green light from your pediatrician. Then, create a plan for yourself on how you will eliminate the night feeds and how will you comfort your little one to go to sleep. If you need help eliminating night feeds, you can set up a consultation with one of Preconceive’s sleep consultants here.
What are some common myths around STTN?
A huge one is that if you give them cereal in their bottle, they will sleep better. This is false. In most cases, I have found in my practice this does the opposite. It has the digestive system working harder, resulting in more diaper changes, resulting in more wake ups and gas. This study from 2010 showed that starting solids before 4 months may actually disrupt sleep. This study revealed that babies who began eating cereal before 4 months of age slept half an hour less each day than infants who weren’t eating cereal. Another myth is that you should keep your baby awake a lot during the day; then they will sleep through the night. This is SO false! Sleep begets sleep. It needs to be balanced. If the quantity (how many hours the baby needs to sleep) + the quality of sleep isn’t up to par, you will have MORE night wakings. Simply because the body then has to kick into adrenaline. That adrenaline lingers and then shows up at night resulting in many unneeded night wakings.
If you need any help or have additional questions about sleep, please contact Carolina and the other coaches at Preconceive to schedule a private appointment.
Munchkin readers can save $30 on their first consultation with Preconceive when you use code MUNCHKIN30
This post was written by Carolina Romanyuk on behalf of Preconceive. Carolina Romanyuk is a Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, specializing in pediatric sleep hygiene and behavioral coaching. Carolina is based in New York City and has dedicated her career to reducing sleep deprivation. She has written for many popular parenting blogs, and has even used her own methods to help her own family get a good night’s sleep! Carolina is the go-to-expert for many new and working parents. So whether you’re returning to work or you just want a bit of shut-eye, Carolina will get your family on track for those Zzz’s.