Sleep through the night?

Matthias hands behind head 2





Sorry! I know you did not want to hear that!


No one ever sleeps the entire night either because

all of us have brief awakenings as we move between our sleep cycles.

We experience REM sleep (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep. REM sleep is characterized by body movement and dreaming. Non-REM sleep has four stages which progress from the drowsy state to a deep sleep. During non-REM sleep, our breathing and  heart rate are regular. This is the most restorative type of sleep.

 Newborns will spend 50% of their sleep in REM. (This explains why newborns are such noisy sleepers.) The REM sleep is thought to be needed for all the brain growth and development that is happening. By age three the child spends only 33% of their sleep time in REM and in later childhood or adolescence they begin to spend only 25% of their sleep in REM just as adults do.

The sleep cycle moves between REM and the stages of non-REM sleep with brief periods of slight awakening. This means that we will always have times of wakefulness during the night. The problem becomes what we do with those times of slight awakening between sleep cycles.

If you, the adult, have healthy sleep habits, when you come to that part of the sleep cycle you might rearrange your blankets, change your position and go back to sleep. In the morning you will not remember doing that.

Your child needs to learn how to handle those periods of slight wakefulness and return to deeper sleep on their own. If your child does not have the ability to return to sleep, they will cry in frustration because they are tired but do not know how to get back to sleep.

Your children will awaken several times throughout the night, even when they are not hungry. As their parent, your children needs you to help them develop their own self-soothing skills to get themselves back to sleep which will make their sleep and yours less interrupted.

If you do not know how to teach your child those skills or need some help and support in the process, contact me at


Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

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