Babies spend a large amount of their time sleeping, even if it doesn't always feel like it to their exhausted moms and dads. But they need all that rest for a number of reasons. First of all, they'd be cranky, fussy messes without it. Second, and more importantly, some crucial things happen as they snooze. In fact, there are a few mind-blowing things that happen to your baby's brain while they sleep that are super important to their overall development.
For the first weeks and months of their lives, babies can sleep as much as 16 or 17 hours a day according to Baby Center. With all the things that babies learn and the milestones they reach in the early months, it's no surprise that their brains end up working overtime during sleep. Their brains also grow at an extraordinary rate during this time. According to Live Science, a baby's brain will grow by about a percent every day for the first few weeks after birth. By the time they're 3 months old, it'll have grown by about 64 percent. Though they'll still be incredibly tiny at that point, their brains will be about half the size of a full-grown adult's.
Here are five incredible things that go on in your baby's sleeping brain.
1The Connections Between The Two Halves Of The Brain Are Strengthened
When your baby is sleeping, the right and left hemispheres of their brain are working away. According to Psychology Today, the connection between the two parts of the brain grows stronger during sleep, and that brings big benefits. A strong connection has been linked to boosts in learning, memory, and creativity.
2Layers Of Myelin Form
According to Enfamil, an important layer of fat called myelin develops around your baby's nerve fibers when they're sleeping. That substance is crucial to your baby's development. The Daily Mail noted that myelin plays a big role in helping people learn new skills, especially when it comes to musical ability. If you want your kid to be a piano prodigy someday, making sure they get enough sleep might be the best place to start.
3They Can Keep Learning
Researchers have found that babies can still learn even when they're fast asleep, according to Live Science. In an experiment, scientists played a sound for snoozing babies and then sent a puff of air into their eyes. Even though they were asleep the entire time, the babies started to scrunch up their eyes to avoid the puff of air once they heard the sound again.
Sleep can also help babies commit things they've already learned to memory. Psych Central referenced German researchers who found that babies and toddlers did significantly better on memory tests when they were well rested.
4The Blood Supply To Muscles Increases
Why do babies feel refreshed after a nap? Well, it's all about their blood flow during sleep, according to the Daily Mail. As much as 40 percent of their blood is diverted to their muscles during sleep, which is what restores energy. It's the same way for adults, so go ahead and snooze right alongside your little one.
5Tissue Growth And Repair Takes Place
When your baby is sleeping, they're building up their supply of brain tissue called gray matter according to Everyday Health. That process is called neuroplasticity, and while it takes place in adults too, it's most important in the first three years or so of a child's life. If they ever (heaven forbid) suffer any sort of head injury, they'll probably be able to recover faster than a grown up would because of this.