Nav: Home

New study provides criteria for good infant sleep for the first time

February 05, 2020

According to a new study, sleep problems among infants are very common and normally improve by the time the child reaches the age of two. The study was carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the University of Turku.

The study found that large changes take place in the sleep of infants during their first two years: the time taken to fall asleep reduces to an average of 20 minutes by the age of 6 months, and by the age of two small children wake up are on average only once during the night.

At the same time, the total amount of time spent sleeping reduces to around 12 hours per day as daytime naps get shorter.

During the first two years, the child's sleep becomes more stable and more consistent.

However, there are large individual variations in the quality of sleep of babies and toddlers, and many parents are concerned about whether their child's sleeping patterns are normal or not. Around 40% of the parents of eight-month-old children who participated in the study said that they were concerned about their child's sleep.

The study was based on the CHILD-SLEEP and FinnBrain birth cohorts. In total, the cohorts contain data on approximately 5,700 Finnish children, and information provided by their parents.

Threshold values for good sleep

The primary goal of the study was to investigate how infants' sleep develops during their first two years.

"Up until now, we have not had any reference values for good infant sleep that are based on large data sets," says Research Manager Juulia Paavonen from THL.

"Now we know that the individual differences are very large, and that patterns relating to falling asleep, waking up, staying awake at night and sleeping rhythms often develop at different rates."

Secondly, the study sought to examine how large the individual differences in sleep among infants can be while still falling within the boundaries of normal child development. This would save parents from unnecessary worry and would help to focus interventions on genuine sleep disorders.

"Those children whose quality of sleep is clearly different from the average would probably benefit from situation assessment at, for example, the child welfare clinic. There are many tools available for reducing children's sleep problems," Paavonen says.

According to Paavonen, it is difficult to give a general recommendation on the total amount of sleep required, although sufficient sleep is certainly important for a child's well-being. The amount of sleep required depends on many factors.

"It is important to look at the child's well-being as a whole."

If it takes longer than 40 minutes for the 8-month-old child to fall asleep, it is best to discuss the matter in the child welfare clinic. The same applies if a 6-month-old child normally wakes at night three times or more, or if the child stays awake at night for particularly long periods, which would mean over 60 minutes for an 8-month-old baby, over 45 minutes for a 12-month-old, or over 30 minutes for an 18-month-old.

"If the parents are very concerned about their child or their own ability to cope, help should be sought even before these levels are reached," Paavonen emphasises.

The FinnBrain and CHILD-SLEEP cohort data is utilised by a wide consortium which includes the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, the Universities of Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Eastern Finland, and the Paediatric Research Center of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District.

National Institute for Health and Welfare

Related Sleep Articles:

Wind turbine noise affects dream sleep and perceived sleep restoration
Wind turbine noise (WTN) influences people's perception of the restorative effects of sleep, and also has a small but significant effect on dream sleep, otherwise known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows.
To sleep deeply: The brainstem neurons that regulate non-REM sleep
University of Tsukuba researchers identified neurons that promote non-REM sleep in the brainstem in mice.
Chronic opioid therapy can disrupt sleep, increase risk of sleep disorders
Patients and medical providers should be aware that chronic opioid use can interfere with sleep by reducing sleep efficiency and increasing the risk of sleep-disordered breathing, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
'Short sleep' gene prevents memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation
The UCSF scientists who identified the two known human genes that promote 'natural short sleep' -- nightly sleep that lasts just four to six hours but leaves people feeling well-rested -- have now discovered a third, and it's also the first gene that's ever been shown to prevent the memory deficits that normally accompany sleep deprivation.
Short sleep duration and sleep variability blunt weight loss
High sleep variability and short sleep duration are associated with difficulties in losing weight and body fat.
Nurses have an increased risk of sleep disorders and sleep deprivation
According to preliminary results of a new study, there is a high prevalence of insufficient sleep and symptoms of common sleep disorders among medical center nurses.
Common sleep myths compromise good sleep and health
People often say they can get by on five or fewer hours of sleep, that snoring is harmless, and that having a drink helps you to fall asleep.
Sleep tight! Researchers identify the beneficial role of sleep
Why do animals sleep? Why do humans 'waste' a third of their lives sleeping?
Does extra sleep on the weekends repay your sleep debt? No, researchers say
Insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders put people at increased risk for metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes.
Kicking, yelling during sleep? Study finds risk factors for violent sleep disorder
Taking antidepressants for depression, having post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety diagnosed by a doctor are risk factors for a disruptive and sometimes violent sleep disorder called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder, according to a study published in the Dec.
More Sleep News and Sleep Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at