You know the story – your baby drifts off to sleep after a feed and lots of snuggles, and it looks like they’re on track for a much-needed, good night’s rest.
But then they wake up again!
Every day, I meet tired, frustrated families who are desperate to understand why their babies aren’t sleeping well. While each of these babies are unique, they have one thing in common: they’re little humans, who, like adults, are designed to sleep soundly through the night (with or without feeds). So when they struggle to sleep according to their natural, free-flowing sleep patterns, it often signals a roadblock in the way.
One of the biggest roadblocks, or reasons babies aren’t getting a good night’s sleep, is that they aren’t sleeping in an optimal sleep environment.
Creating an Optimal Sleep Environment
It’s our job as parents to provide a sleep environment that promotes quality rest for our little ones. But with so much conflicting and sometimes inaccurate information available, it can feel easier said than done.
So, what does an optimal sleep environment actually look like?
Whether your baby shares a room with you or sleeps in their own space, there are three key things to consider when creating a sleep environment that will support their growth, development, and overall wellbeing: light, noise, and warmth.
From bedtime until morning, your baby needs to sleep in a dark or pitch-black room. When we’re in a dark environment, humans produce melatonin, AKA ‘the sleepy hormone’, to help us get the sleep we need at night.
Any light exposure – whether it’s a crack of light from around the curtains, light coming under the door, or even a colored light from a nightlight – can interfere with melatonin production, even when our eyes are closed. Babies lack the concept of time, so being in a dark environment is a must to signal to their bodies that it’s nighttime, meaning it’s time for a big stretch of sleep (with or without feeds).
Another element to think about is noise.
Everyday household noises – people talking, the toilet flushing, even sound from the TV – plus outside noise, like passing cars, are noises you want your baby to hear and get used to. When you allow your little one to hear them all the time, they become a normal part of the environment and won’t disrupt your baby’s sleep.
Unlike most sleep experts, I don’t believe in blocking out natural, everyday noises with an artificial white noise machine.
99% of the families I help come to me with a baby that’s not sleeping well and has become dependent on artificial white noise during sleep times. Rather than helping with sleep, these machines interfere with a baby’s natural ability to fall asleep using tiredness and their own little sleep and settling skills.
The third important aspect is warmth.
You already know it’s crucial to not let your baby get too hot for safety reasons. But did you know that being too cold can affect sleep quality for babies,children, and even adults?All year round, I see little ones sleeping poorly simply because they aren’t warm enough.Making sure that your baby is cool enough to sleep safely and warm enough to sleep soundly is a huge part of creating an optimal sleep environment.
A good way to take the guesswork out of things is to monitor your little one’s temperature in real time. An accurate, real-time temperature monitor like the CuboAi Smart Temp will let you know if your baby’s too warm or too cold — without disturbing them while they sleep — so you can confidently add or remove a layer of sleepwear or adjust the room temperature both at night and during the day. Just as we adjust our blankets throughout the night, our little ones need that comfort too. Let’s make their dreams as sweet as can be!
Written by Steph Gouin, CuboAi ambassador, registered nurse, and child and infant sleep expert