How Much Should My Newborn Sleep?


It's no surprise that sleep is a hot topic for new parents. After all, a good night's sleep is not only essential for a baby's growth and development but also for the sanity of sleep-deprived parents. So, how much should a newborn sleep?

Let's dive into the fascinating world of newborn sleep and uncover the secrets to establishing healthy sleep habits right from the start.

Understanding Newborn Sleep Cycles

First things first, it's crucial to understand the unique sleep patterns of newborns. Unlike adults, who cycle through stages of deep and light sleep, newborns spend most of their time in active sleep, also known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This phase is characterized by twitching, fluttering eyelids, and irregular breathing.


Newborns have shorter sleep cycles, typically lasting anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Their sleep patterns change as they grow. Around two months old, we start talking about their sleep in terms of REM (when their eyes move rapidly) and NREM (when they're in a deeper sleep). But before this, we use different terms. What eventually becomes REM sleep is first called active sleep (AS), and what becomes NREM is called quiet sleep (QS). There's also another stage called indeterminate sleep (IS) where they show a mix of both REM and NREM traits. As babies get older, NREM sleep can be divided into different stages, like stages 1, 2, and slow wave sleep, usually when they're about 4 to 6 months old.

How Much Sleep is Normal?

The amount of sleep a newborn needs can vary from baby to baby, but there are general guidelines that can help parents gauge whether their little one is getting enough rest. On average, newborns sleep between 14 to 17 hours a day, broken up into multiple naps and nighttime sleep.

During the first few weeks, newborns may sleep for shorter stretches, waking every 2-3 hours to feed. As they mature, they may start consolidating their sleep into longer stretches at night, with shorter naps during the day.

Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits

While it's normal for newborns to have erratic sleep patterns, there are steps parents can take to encourage healthy sleep habits:

Create a Calm Sleep Environment: Set the stage for sleep by creating a calm and soothing environment. Keep the room dimly lit during nighttime feedings and use white noise or gentle lullabies to help your baby relax.

Follow a Consistent Bedtime Routine: Establishing a bedtime routine signals to your baby that it's time to wind down. This could include activities like a warm bath, gentle massage, feeding, and reading a bedtime story.

Encourage Daytime Wakefulness: While it may seem counterintuitive, exposing your baby to natural light and engaging in stimulating activities during the day can help regulate their sleep-wake cycle, leading to better sleep at night.

Practice Safe Sleep: Always place your baby on their back to sleep, on a firm mattress with no loose bedding or soft objects that could pose a suffocation hazard. Avoid overheating by dressing your baby in lightweight, breathable sleepwear.

Be Responsive to Your Baby's Cues: Newborns have different sleep needs and preferences. Pay attention to your baby's cues and respond to their needs promptly, whether it's hunger, discomfort, or the need for soothing.

When to Seek Help

While it's normal for newborns to have erratic sleep patterns, there are signs that may indicate a sleep issue or underlying problem:

  • Excessive fussiness or difficulty settling to sleep
  • Persistent trouble with feeding or weight gain
  • Difficulty waking for feedings
  • Unusual breathing patterns during sleep

If you're concerned about your baby's sleep habits or overall well-being, don't hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician for guidance and support.


Navigating newborn sleep can be challenging, but with patience, consistency, and a little bit of know-how, you can help your baby develop healthy sleep habits that will set the foundation for a lifetime of restful nights. Remember, every baby is unique, so trust your instincts and embrace the journey of parenthood—one sleep cycle at a time.