“Sleeping through the night” is a phrase that is probably best banned from our vocabulary. Let’s face it, no one really sleeps through the night. If you poll a group of adult friends and ask them how they slept last night, you will undoubtedly hear such things as: The wind woke me up.

At 3:00 am I looked at the clock and was relieved to see I had two more hours before the alarm would ring.

If you poll a group of parents, and get past the “She has always slept through the night,” you will hear a variety of comments:

When he is teething, he has a little trouble sleeping.

She seems so hungry at around 2:00 am—must be a growth spurt.

He has been waking with bad dreams.

If sleeping all night long, every night, is your expectation for your child,

you may be setting yourself up for frustration. Sleep needs and patterns

change with age, illness, and emotional or even environmental factors. Just as

with other parenting issues, our goals, expectations, and approaches must be

constantly re-evaluated.    

It is misleading to think of sleep as a state we simply fall into at night and wake from in the morning. Sleep research has shown that there are definite patterns and fluctuations during the night. They play important roles to help refresh us and can reveal some causes behind sleep disturbances.

The descriptions of these cycles can be quite technical. Because a basic understanding is crucial, an effort has been made to give a very simple explanation of what occurs and how your child might be affected.


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