Is there such a thing as a “light sleeper”?

Is there such a thing as a light sleeper

Do you think your baby is a light sleeper? Is she waking up frequently and finding it hard to go back to sleep? Does she go from fast asleep in your arms to wide awake the second you place her in the crib?

This is, by far, the most common complaint I get from my clients.

But what if I told you that there is no such thing as an actual light sleeper? What if I told you that everybody, babies, and adults alike, can be both light sleepers and heavy sleepers?

We all cycle through different stages of sleep going from light to heavy sleep several times a night. Some babies just spend more time in light sleep before they transition to deeper sleep and some go from one to the other in almost no time at all.

NREM or “deep” sleep is the best kind of sleep. It is the truly restorative sleep, and it occurs in the middle of the cycles. This is the reason why some people can get by on less sleep than others: it turns out they just get more NREM sleep while they are resting.

So, what happens when your baby seems like a light sleeper is that she spends more time in light sleep than deep sleep. And, of course, light sleep is the easiest to wake up from because during that stage we not only dream but we are also more aware of any environmental changes.
Babies’ sleep cycles are also shorter, and this means that they spend almost twice as much time in light stages of sleep than adults.

Well, what can we do about it? Can we teach our baby to just spend more time in deep sleep? Unfortunately, no!

However, you can teach them to fall back to sleep independently when they wake up and this will help them link their sleep cycles more quickly and peacefully.

First, identify any sleep props that your baby is using to fall asleep. I am talking about any strategy that they rely on and that they can’t provide on their own such as pacifiers, rocking motions or feeding. For example, if baby falls asleep while being rocked by mom or dad, then she will look for the same ritual when she wakes up at the end of a sleep cycle. And, most likely, she will cry and fuss until she gets it. Furthermore, not being able to fall asleep independently will wake her up completely and will make it harder for you to help her do so.

Those babies that people usually call “good sleepers” have the exact same sleep cycles as the ones who wake up crying. They have just found a way to fall asleep on their own and to go happily back to sleep when they wake up.

To sum up, you can’t stop your little one from waking up at night because this is totally natural and happens to all babies. What you can do is teach her how to handle sleep independently so that you can both enjoy full nights of uninterrupted sleep!


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