Around two-thirds of babies are able to sleep through the night on a regular basis by the age of six months, yet one-third of babies struggle to do so, sometimes leading to sleepless nights and tiredness for their parents during the day. Poor nursery design can contribute to the problem—for instance, if the space where your baby sleeps is too loud, “busy,” or stimulating. Good sleep is a matter of changing up routines (such as nap routines), helping your baby sleep in a comfortable position, and ensuring their nursery is conducive to quality sleep. If you are in the process of designing a space for your little one, keep the following tips in mind.
Your Light and Sound Choices are Key
All human beings are “wired” to feel alert during the day (when the sun is shining) and sleepy during the night. When it is dark, the body releases the hormone melatonin, which signals that it’s time to feel drowsy. To encourage your child to feel sleepier by night, ensure their room mimics the natural rising and setting of the sun. Their room should have wide, beautiful windows that enable the sun to flood their space during the day. However, as soon as it is bedtime, the nursery should be completely dark. Achieve this aim by using blackout curtains and by soundproofing the baby’s room if necessary. This will reduce the chances of night waking and excessive day sleepiness.
Keeping it Minimalist
When shopping, you may be overwhelmed by the array of nursery themes—ranging from cool blue to pastel pink, right through to vintage and gender-neutral. You may be tempted to buy a wide array of storage furniture, lighting features, and decorative pieces, aside from your baby’s crib. Choosing cute blankets with stars, or imagery of balloons, flowers, and jungle animals is fine, as are signature pieces like an antique chair, painted wall feature, or a vintage trunk. However, your baby’s room shouldn’t be too “busy.” The nursery should be neat and tidy, with plenty of space to walk through. Spaces that are over-crowded not only pose an injury risk for your baby, but can also make them overwhelm their senses.
Calming Design Choices
The colors in your child’s room can have a big effect on their state of calm. If you love bold, bright colors and “maximalist” design styles, save them for other parts of your home. Your baby’s room should be on the monochromatic side, with only subtle contrasts marking the difference between walls, furniture, and fabric. Main colors to consider include blue and green, which are scientifically proven to relax the mind. More vibrant colors (like red, orange, or yellow) are great for energizing your little one and they can be used in areas like your child’s day playroom.
Acing the art of nursery design is simple. Feel free to choose fun themes that express your sense of style and captivate your baby. However, remember that a nursery is, essentially, a bedroom. It should be quiet, well lit by day and dark by night, and peaceful enough so that your baby associates it with rest and sleepiness.
Infant sleep disorders
Not sleeping through the night, although exhausting to you, is not considered a disorder by itself. However, some infants fail to sleep through the night because of the presence of a sleep or medical disorder. Parents need to realize that some sleep problems are caused by a medical condition that needs to be treated rather than trained.
There are two categories of sleep disorders that can affect your baby. The first category that can disrupt infant sleep is parasomnias (sleep walking or night terrors). Parasomnias are rare in children under the age of 18 months. The second category is dyssomnias. Dyssomnia refers to any condition that causes problems with falling asleep, remaining asleep, or experiencing restful sleep.
Sleep disorders or problems that fall under the dyssomnia category can range from mild to life-threatening. The best way to spot any potential problems is to be aware of any sudden or unusual change to your baby’s sleep patterns. There are common symptoms you can watch out for to help determine if your child is experiencing a true dyssomnia. Symptoms to look for include:
- Waking up screaming shortly after going down
- Failure to thrive
- Mouth breathing
- Difficulty breathing while asleep (with no explanation such as a cold)
- Sweats heavily when sleeping
- Sleeps restlessly
- Regularly stops breathing for a moment during the night or nap
- Excessively tired during the day
- Difficulty waking up
Obstructive apneas in infant are usually caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids or facial deformities. Untreated sleep apnea in infants not only prevents sleep, but it also can cause more serious cognitive, health, and developmental problems.
If you suspect your baby is suffering from a sleep disorder you need to schedule an appointment with an board certified sleep physician. A sleep physician can review your infant’s history and symptoms. If needed, an overnight sleep study will be ordered so your doctor can help you develop the right treatment plan for your baby.
If your baby has sleep apnea, they may need a machine to help with breathing while sleeping. Sometimes, infant sleep apnea will go away as your child grows and develops more. Other times medication is needed to treat the underlying cause of the apnea.
Your child’s doctor will closely monitor your baby’s apnea as they grow to see if further intervention or even surgery is needed.
Watching your infant struggle to sleep through the night can cause any parent to feel overwhelmed. At the Alaska Sleep Clinic, we understand how overwhelming and downright frightening it can be to watch your baby struggle to sleep.
We are here to help you find solutions to get your baby — and you — sleeping peacefully. For a free pediatric phone consultation, click the link below.