Why do babies sleep cycles change and they refuse to sleep? The 4 best answers

Why do babies sleep cycles change

Cracking the Code: How to Help Your Baby Connect Sleep Cycles

Why do babies sleep cycles change and they refuse to sleep? Babies are known for their unpredictable sleep patterns, leaving many parents feeling exhausted and frustrated. Just when you think you have a routine down, your baby’s sleep cycles change, and they refuse to sleep.

But why does this happen, and what can you do about it?

Within this article, we will examine the factors influencing the fluctuating sleep patterns of infants and offer remedies to assist your child in obtaining the necessary rest.

Understanding Sleep Cycles in Babies

Before we dive into why babies’ sleep cycles change, it’s essential to understand the basics of sleep cycles in infants.

Babies have shorter sleep cycles than adults, typically lasting around 50–60 minutes. During these cycles, they move through different stages of sleep, including light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep.

Light sleep is when your baby is easily awakened and may make small movements or noises. Deep sleep is when they are in a more restful state and their breathing and heart rate slow down. REM sleep is when your baby’s eyes move rapidly, and they may have dreams.

Babies spend more time in REM sleep than adults, which is why they may seem to wake up more frequently during the night.

Sleep Associations

Baby sleeping

One of the main reasons why babies’ sleep cycles change is due to sleep associations.

Sleep associations refer to the circumstances or items that your infant links with falling asleep, such as being gently rocked, using a pacifier, or being fed.

When your baby wakes up during the night, they may need these associations to fall back asleep. If they are unable to recreate these conditions, they may have trouble falling back asleep, leading to frequent wake-ups and disrupted sleep cycles.

Why do babies sleep cycles change? Developmental Changes

As babies grow and develop, their sleep cycles also change.

As an illustration, infants may spend the majority of their day sleeping, whereas older babies might experience longer periods of being awake.

Additionally, as babies reach developmental milestones, such as rolling over or crawling, they may have trouble settling down for sleep as they are excited about their new skills.

Teething and Illness

Teething and illness can also disrupt babies’ sleep cycles. Teething can cause discomfort and pain, making it challenging for babies to fall asleep and stay asleep. Similarly, if your baby is sick, they may have trouble sleeping due to discomfort or congestion.

Solutions for Changing Sleep Cycles

Now that we understand why babies’ sleep cycles change, let’s explore some solutions to help your little one get the rest they need.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Newborn baby boy sleeping on a white mattress

A consistent bedtime routine can help your baby understand that it’s time to sleep. This routine can include activities such as a bath, reading a book, or singing a lullaby.

By consistently following the same nightly routine, your baby will begin to link these actions with sleep, which will facilitate their ability to both fall asleep and remain asleep.

Encourage Self-Soothing

As mentioned earlier, sleep associations can be a significant factor in disrupted sleep cycles. Encouraging your baby to self-soothe can help them learn to fall asleep without needing external factors such as being rocked or fed.

You can start by putting your baby down when they are drowsy but not fully asleep. This way, they can learn to fall asleep on their own without needing your help.

Create a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

A comfortable sleep environment is crucial for helping your baby sleep through the night. Make sure the room is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using white noise to drown out any outside noises that may disrupt your baby’s sleep.

Additionally, make sure your baby’s crib or bassinet is free of any loose objects or blankets that could pose a suffocation risk.

Be Consistent with Naps

Baby napping

Naps are essential for babies’ development and can also impact their nighttime sleep. Make sure your baby is getting enough naps throughout the day, and try to stick to a consistent nap schedule. This will help regulate their sleep cycles and make it easier for them to fall asleep at night.

Address Teething and Illness

If your baby’s sleep cycles are changing due to teething or illness, it’s essential to address these issues. Consult with your pediatrician for safe and effective ways to alleviate teething pain or manage your baby’s illness. By addressing these issues, you can help your baby get the rest they need to recover and get back to their regular sleep patterns.

When to Seek Help

While it’s normal for babies’ sleep cycles to change, there are times when it may be necessary to seek help from a pediatrician or sleep specialist. If your baby is consistently waking up multiple times during the night and is unable to fall back asleep, it may be a sign of a sleep disorder or underlying medical issue.

Additionally, if your baby is not meeting their developmental milestones or is consistently irritable and fussy due to a lack of sleep, it’s essential to consult with a professional for guidance and support.


Babies’ sleep cycles change for various reasons, including sleep associations, developmental changes, and teething or illness. By understanding these factors and implementing some solutions, you can help your baby get the rest they need for healthy development and a happy, well-rested family.

Remember to be patient and consistent, and don’t be afraid to seek help if needed. With time and effort, you and your baby can establish healthy sleep patterns that will benefit the whole family.

However, if you are looking for a child sleep coach agency, you may consider reaching out to Sleeping Angels, Inc. They specialize in helping parents establish healthy sleep patterns for their babies. You can contact them for assistance and guidance in dealing with your baby’s sleep issues.

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