Here's why newborns sleep so much:
- Brain Growth: A newborn's brain is undergoing incredible development. Sleep facilitates the crucial formation of new connections and pathways in the brain, supporting learning
- Physical Growth: Just like their brains, a newborn's body is experiencing rapid growth. Sleep provides the rest needed for building tissue and cells and allows for the release of growth hormones.
- Frequent Feedings: Newborns have very tiny stomachs that can only hold a small amount of breast milk or formula. Due to this, they wake up frequently to feed, even at night.
Immature Circadian Rhythm:
- No Sense of Day/Night: A baby's circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles, is not yet developed. So, they don't distinguish between day and night, leading to sleep scattered throughout the day.
Rest and Recovery:
- Adapting to the World: Exiting the womb and adjusting to the outside world is a tiring and overstimulating experience for newborns. Sleep helps them process all the new sights, sounds, and sensations.
How Much Sleep is Normal?
Newborns generally sleep between 14-17 hours within a 24-hour period, however, their sleep patterns are usually broken up into short bursts rather than extended chunks.
Note: If you're worried that your newborn is sleeping too much or too little, or you notice other concerning symptoms, always consult your pediatrician.