Sleep: Mum’s VS Babies

landscape-1429833353-exhausted-momAs mum’s, we have all experienced our babies erratic sleeping and waking habits. When a baby is born, their sleep is not synced to day and night. They have not yet developed circadian rhythms. It can take weeks to months for our babies to adapt to our 24-hour day. This is why your baby is unlikely to settle throughout the night.

When comparing a baby’s sleep cycle to ours, there are two main differences: we experience a lot more ‘deep sleep’ or ‘REM’, and our sleep cycles are longer.


Stage 1: Light sleep; where we drift in and out of sleep. In this stage we are easily awakened. This stage is characterised by slow eye movement and the slowing of muscle activity.

Stage 2: Eye movement stops. Our brain waves then start to slow.

Stage 3: We experience a mix of extremely slow brain and fast brain waves.

Stage 4. We experience only the slow waves; delta waves.*

Stage 4: REM. Our sleep waves increase here dramatically, to the levels experienced during our awake stage. This stage is characterised by rapid breathing, increased heart rate, limb and muscle paralysis (temporary) and eye movements. REM is where we dream.

One sleep cycle, which begins with stage 1 and ends in REM, is about 100minutes. At the end of this cycle, we either awake, or repeat the cycle.


Our babies have two sleep states, while we have four; ‘active and quiet’. A babies sleep cycles is about half the length of ours, at about 50 minutes in their first year. (1).

Stage 1: Active sleep. This is the start of a babies cycle. It is the equivalent of our REM sleep. (2) Babies in active sleep experience the same physical charactersitcs as adults do; moving eyelids, irregular breathing and body jerking. This stage equates to half of their entire sleep cycle. Stage 2 equates to the other.

Stage 2: Quiet sleep. This stage is characterised by slower, less erratic breathing and less body movements. Babies are more easily woken in this stage. At the end of this stage, the baby will either awaken or start another cycle.

*Stages 2 and 3 are what we call deep sleep. In this stage it is difficult to wake.

  1. Jenni et al 2004.
  2. Anders 1979

Disclaimer: Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss. Consult with your health care processional before beginning any diet or exercise regime.

Tammy Kacev
Nutrition Expert

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