When you bring your little bundle home from the hospital, one of the first things you'll notice is that your baby likes to sleep. Like, a lot. In fact, your baby will like to sleep so much that you might wonder if your baby's sleeping too much. Is there such a thing as a baby that sleeps too much? Is your baby just sleeping through life, or are they actually tired? How does a baby know it's tired? Sure, there are signs you can look out for as a parent, but how does a baby know recognize that they need to sleep?
When babies are first born, they're pretty much on autopilot when it comes to sleep. Even though you might think they're sleeping too much, Parents noted that your baby's body knows when it's time to nap. This is called their sleep window. Parenting Science noted that your baby has natural circadian rhythms, just like you. But it's not as developed as that of an adult, which is why your baby will often sleep for an hour every other hour throughout the entire day. The outlet reported that it takes most babies around 12 weeks to adapt to day-night rhythms, which will help aid your baby in sleeping through the night. But because they don't settle into this day-night melatonin production and circadian rhythm until around 12 weeks, it makes those first 12 weeks especially important. During those first weeks of life, you won't want to miss the sleep window.
This means you need to be ready to provide them with a good sleeping environment, or risk landing yourself with an overstimulated and overtired baby. And according to the Baby Sleep Site, once your baby is overtired, stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline flood your baby’s bloodstream, and make it even harder for your baby to relax and fall asleep. "If you miss your child's 'sleep window,' that natural time to sleep, his body won't be pumping out calming melatonin," Kim West, author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight, told Parents. "Instead, his adrenal glands will send out a rush of cortisol, a stress-related hormone that will overstimulate your baby, make him 'wired,' and create a second wind."
Your baby will gradually get less tired between naps as they grow, but according to Raising Children, it's common for newborns to get sleepy even if they've only been awake for an hour. The site recommended paying attention to your baby's signs of sleepiness so that you can reduce stimulation and settle them to sleep. Newborns may pull at their ears, yawn, frown, suck on their fingers, become squirmy, and even have difficulty focusing when they begin to feel sleepy. If you see any of these signs coming on, it's your baby's body telling you and baby that it's time for a nap. The more you practice reducing stimulation when your baby gets sleepy, the easier it will be to put your baby down for naps and for the night.