Some babies do not like sleeping and do not let their parents sleep as well. Some babies, on the contrary, are very good sleepers and always totally satisfy their needs of sleeping up to 10 hours a day. Recently, s group of the experts from the department of anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, conducted a research trying to find out whether sleeping is linked to growing up in babies, just like our grandmas tended to believe. It turned out that – yes, the old notion does have scientific background and after a good sleep, a baby always wakes up taller.
The study involved working with 23 families with newborn babies, average 12 days. The parents were asked to keep tracks of their babies’ sleep patterns and waking up routine. All other details, like whether the baby was breast-fed or formula-fed, or whether the baby displayed the symptoms like vomiting, gas, diarrhea, high fever and so on, were also taken into account. Also, the scientists regularly measured the length of the babies, as often as twice a week.
The findings were really interesting and exciting. Every change in the baby’s sleep patterns, or every time the baby had a tendency to sleep more, a substantial growth spurt was following. The scientists estimated that 43% of babies experienced an obvious growth spurt with every extra hours of sleep they took. 20% of babies displayed growth spurt when they were taking increased number of naps on a day-to-day basis. At that, the scientists reported that baby girls were more likely to take less number of naps that baby boys. Also, those babies who were fed with formula tended to have longer but less frequent naps compared to the breast-fed babies.
These findings turned out to be first of the kind that confirmed the links between sleep patterns and growing up in babies. “Little is known about the biology of growth spurts. Our data opens the window to further scientific study of the mechanisms and pathways that underlie salutatory growth,” says Michelle Lampl, one of the research team leaders. “Sleep irregularities can be distressing to parents,” the specialist adds. “However, these findings give babies a voice that helps parents understand them and show that seemingly erratic sleep behavior is a normal part of development. Babies really aren’t trying to be difficult.”
Marital problems and misunderstandings are reported to be linked to serious sleep problems in infants and toddlers, the scientists say. It was well known before that instability and unhealthy relationships between parents usually cause certain behavioral and psychological problems in their kids, but according to the findings of the research published recently in the journal Child Development, marital conflicts very often lead to developing serous sleep problems in infants as well. The combination of all the mentioned factors caused by marital instability and problems between parents can lead to serious outcomes for children, including behavioral and social issues, problems in school, psychological disorders and so on.
The study conducted by a group of specialists at Oregon Social Learning Center involved close analysis of the situation in about 350 middle class families with children between 9 and 18 months. To rule out the chances that sleep disorders in infants can be caused by genetic predisposition, only the families with adopted infants were invited to participate the study. The degree of marital problems was evaluated by using a standard four-grade measure, with the highest point given to those couples who gave positive answer to the question about possible divorce or separation.
The facts have proven that prolonged instability and conflicts between parents when the children are 9 months old are strictly linked to sleep problems (including inability to fall asleep, problems with staying asleep at night, night walking and so on) when children become 18 months old. “Our findings suggest that the association between marital instability and children’s subsequent sleep problems emerges earlier in development than has been demonstrated previously,” says Anne Manning, one of the Oregon State University study group leaders.
“Parents should be aware that stress in the marriage can potentially impact their child even at a very young age,” underlines Anne Manning in the statement of the scientists. Now, the Oregon study group is planning to get focused on studying the links between marital conflicts and the emergence of sleep problems or disturbances in children after the age of 2. So, if you are a mom or father of an infant, remember about healthy parenting, the role of parent-child relationship and the above mentioned effects of marital problems and instability on your infants. Remember that sleep problems in infants can lead to very serious and unstoppable consequences.