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Sleep quality vs. quantity: what parents need to know

Like many things in life, quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity.


Nature has gifted us all with a biological clock which determines the ideal time to be asleep and awake. When we try to go against these rhythms, not only does it make bedtime a struggle, it also compromises the quality of sleep.


Like many things in life, quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity.


Nature has gifted us all with a biological clock which determines the ideal time to be asleep and awake. When we try to go against these rhythms, not only does it make bedtime a struggle, it also compromises the quality of sleep.


Child sleep expert Kim West says, “If you miss your child’s “sleep window,” that natural time to sleep, his body won’t be pumping out calming melatonin. Precisely the opposite will occur. 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.” ((West, Kim, and Joanne Kenen. The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake up Happy. New York: Vanguard, 2010. Print.)).

When our sleep times are in conflict with our natural body clock, the restorative purposes of sleep suffer.


Motion sleep

I often work with families that have their babies sleeping in swings, strollers or car seats as they find the motion soothing. But even though movement can be calming to a baby, when sleep is experienced in motion, the quality can be compromised.


Kim West say “Motion lulls us to sleep, but it also keeps us in a lighter, more fragmented sleep; our brains never reach the level of full restorative sleep if we’re moving.”


When sleep is experienced in motion, the brain does not always enter the deep sleep phase which is when mental and physical restoration takes place.


Therefore motion sleep can be thought of as ‘junk sleep’, and just like junk food, it’s not something that you should do on a daily basis.


But as sleep consultant Dana Obleman advises, “.. does this mean you can’t hold or cuddle your sleepy baby when she’s upset