Saturday, March 22, 2008

Naps Every 90 Minutes for Babies?

Here's an article I found about sleeping. In order for us to be as healthy as possible, sleeping is just as important as eating. Could it be, that the reason some of us have such a difficult time sleeping at night is that we didn't sleep every 90 minutes when we were babies?

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER want to nap every 90 minutes

Doctor prescribes a lot more rest to grow happy kids
Last updated March 21, 2008 5:38 p.m. PT

The premise in Dr. Polly Moore's book -- "The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program: Follow Your Child's Natural Sleep Rhythms for Better Nights and Naps" -- may shock today's overachieving, overscheduled parents.
Moore, a neuroscientist and director of sleep research at California Clinical Trials in San Diego, says young babies need to nap after every 90 minutes of wakefulness. And that means spending more time at home in those first five or six months rather than being always on the go.

SEATTLE P-I: So, how big a problem is infant sleep?
Do we need another book on infant sleep? That's what I said when people said I should write a book. What I heard from people is this is the No. 1 concern of parents. ... I think sleep problems in infants are probably at an all-time high. I don't have numbers to back that up, but I don't think people protect sleep like they did in the 1950s.

Why is adequate baby sleep so important?
Babies that don't sleep well become toddlers that don't sleep well and schoolchildren that don't sleep well. And we know that they have higher rates of ADHD, mood disorders and more. ... Your baby can sleep all night long for eight hours and still need a nap 90 minutes later.

Are we over scheduling our infants? Or keeping them awake too much?
We're keeping them awake too much. We don't protect their sleep. We think it's OK if they take a 20-minute cat nap in the car. Part of it is that the parents don't want to give up anything in their lives. That's what I hear: "Well, I don't want to stay home. I want to go out and go to the mall."

What is your NAPS plan?
The NAPS plan is a way to start observing your baby's natural sleepiness and alertness cycles -- to recognize their signs of sleepiness and initiate sleep while they're sleepy. ... Somewhere around 90 minutes, you look for your baby's signs of sleepiness and put them down for a nap. (If you miss that window, after about 10 to 15 minutes, baby will go back to a state of alertness and won't be ready to sleep for another 90 minutes.)

So, why does it work? Why is a baby ready to sleep after 90 minutes of wakefulness?
There's this 90-minute clock that appears to be running in your brain all the time, that you're not aware of. ... This basic rest and activity cycle is seen in all mammals -- whether it's a horse or an elephant or a cat. So cats have about a 22-minute repeating pattern. Monkeys have a 72-minute pattern.
(Moore adds that we don't know why the 90-minute cycle is important in humans and that there haven't been large, systematic studies on baby sleep and the 90-minute cycle.)

It seems counterintuitive, so why does more daytime sleep beget more nighttime sleep?
If you want them to sleep through the night, you really have to focus on the daytime sleep first. People always ask me if I'm nuts. And I say, "It's not going to kill you to try this for a few days."
One of the things that gets tiring for babies is all that sensory noise that they can't sort out yet. Sleep helps reset that signal-to-noise ratio. Good sleep takes that noise level down so you can pick out the meaningful information from this barrage of stimulation. Not being able to do that puts their system out of balance or overloads it. Not being able to sleep enough during the day means their system has to work harder at night to be able to discharge that noise.

How do you feel about co-sleeping in bed with parents?
It is so wonderful and warm and snuggly. I can't say it's terrible and nobody should ever do it. What I will say is that people who co-sleep -- easy as it is when they're babies -- run into a problem when they're toddlers. It's very difficult to get your toddler to sleep on his own when he's been in your bed. I suggest co-sleeping in a limited way. Older children become dependent on your presence to fall asleep. ... Babies that know how to soothe themselves end up with better coping skills for all kinds of stressors later in life.

How do parents react when you ask them to slow down and increase their child's naps?
I don't think they're wild about it. But it's true. I say, "I want you to think about sleep, which is as important a biological drive as eating." And I say, "Would you ever say, 'It's not convenient to feed my child right now?' " You wouldn't. We'd never think of saying that.

Dr. Polly Moore created the NAPS plan to help parents clue into her 90-minute cycle theory. Here's how it works.

N: Note the time when your baby wakes up.

A: Add 90 minutes.

P: Play with your baby.

S: Soothe your baby to sleep as the 90 minutes wind down.

P-I reporter Kristin Dizon can be reached at 206-448-8118 or
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