Newborn babies typically come up out the womb having NO idea when it’s daytime and when it’s nighttime. I mean, we can’t blame them. They DID just spend 9 months in the womb!
The problem here is that your newborn might think that 3am is a great time to throw a party…and that 3pm is a perfect time to nap for 4 hours straight.
This is otherwise known as day-night confusion.
In this episode of the My Sleeping Baby podcast, I’ll be delving into more detail about what causes day-night confusion and what you can do to fix it!
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Hey there, you’re listening to the My Sleeping Baby podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little ones sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three, founder of the Sleep Bible online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep and motherhood. If you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep woes or you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @mysleepingbaby.
All right, so today I wanna talk about something called Day Night Confusion, which is probably one of the most common sleep challenges that brand new parents have with their newborn babies as soon as they get home from the hospital. Day. Night Confusion basically describes the very common phenomenon when you have a newborn baby that has its days and nights completely mixed up. The main reason why this happens is because when your newborn is born, they don’t have a biological clock, they don’t have a circadian rhythm the way that you and I have, where our bodies know when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to go to sleep solely because of the rising and setting of the sun. Your newborn, on the other hand, has been living in the womb for nine months, which is completely dark day and night, and so they have absolutely no idea when it’s daytime and when it’s nighttime.
And so the end result is that you could very easily have a baby, a newborn baby on your hands who is sleeping all day and then wants to party all night long. Now, the good news is that this problem does not last forever. Usually by the time your newborn is in that six, eight week mark, they tend to outgrow this day night confusion because their biological clock just naturally develops on its own, and because of their exposure to the rise and setting of the sun, they begin to really understand that three o’clock in the morning is not the time to party anymore. That being said, I totally get that. If you have a two week old who is sleeping all day and up all night, that waiting until these six to eight week mark seems impossible, and I know that it is exhausting, but I do want you to know that there are steps that you can take to help speed this process up.
Step number one, expose your newborn to as much light as possible during the day. So open up the blinds, keep on the lights during the daytime, let your little one nap in a brightly lit room so that this way, exposing your little one’s body to as much light as possible during these daytime hours is going to help them learn the difference between daytime and nighttime. And then on the flip side of things, when it is actually nighttime, make sure that they aren’t exposed to any of that light. Sure, you might need to turn on a dim nightlight or a hall light so that you can see your baby and you can see yourself when you need to be able to feed your baby in the middle of the night. I get that you’re gonna need some light to help you out with that, but make sure that it is minimal.
You don’t wanna be turning on the lamp in your room or you know the full light on it in your bathroom because we don’t wanna be confusing your baby’s body, making them think that perhaps two o’clock in the morning is the right time to be up for, you know, partying for a couple hours at a time. We don’t wanna be sending that message. So use the absolute bare minimum amount of light at nighttime to be able to help you tend to your baby as quickly as EAs and easily as possible while keeping them exposed to as much light during daytime hours. Now, I know that this advice might be a little bit confusing because you’ve heard me talk about how important it is for your baby to be napping in a dark, quiet room. This advice is applicable to babies and toddlers of all ages.
Once they are past that six to eight week mark and their biological clocks are developed, and they do know the difference between daytime and nighttime, this specific piece of advice really just pertains to those first few weeks where your little one might have their days and nights confused. And so before we start worrying about healthy sleep hygiene and having them nap in a nice, dark, quiet room, we wanna make sure that we get that aspect of things sorted out first. The second really big piece of advice that I would give you to help expedite the process to allow your little one’s body to adjust to daytime and nighttime appropriately is to make sure that they aren’t napping too much during the day. Now, I know that this advice can also be confusing because you’ve heard me talk about how important good quality naps are to ensure that your little one doesn’t get overtired.
That still stands true. But here’s the thing, when we’re dealing with a brand newborn baby that does not know the difference yet between daytime at nighttime, we need to make sure that they’re not giving you these big, massive stretches of sleep during the day because then that’s going to make them think that daytime is when they should be giving you these big, massive stretches of sleep. And that nighttime is when they nap. We want that to be the opposite, right? So generally speaking, I would say yes, yet, let your little one nap. Let your little one nap frequently, but don’t let them nap for longer than a couple hours at a time, because very often I find that newborns tend to be capable of giving us one longer stretch of sleep over a 24 hour period. And then the idea is that over time, with the right sleep habits and sleep hygiene down pats, we can see that one stretch of sleep lengthen over time.
We don’t want that one stretch of sleep happening during the day. We want that four to five hour stretch that your few week old newborn can give you to be happening at night when you are asleep, because you being able to get that four to five hour stretch of sleep off the bat is worth its weight in gold and is going to impact positively your mental health, hugely on top of helping your little one adjust to its and understands it’s days and nights. So this whole notion of a never wake a sleeping baby, I want you to know, is a bunch of baloney, because really what the saying should be is never wake a sleeping baby until you have to wake your sleeping baby. So in other words, yeah, we don’t just wake sleeping babies for the fun of it because no one wins in that department.
If your baby is soundly sleeping, enjoy the break. But there are numerous circumstances where waking your baby up is in everyone’s best interests, in terms of protecting your little one’s sleep schedule over the next 24 hours. And there’s so many examples of when waking a sleeping baby is the best thing to do. And this is one of those examples where your baby is sleeping three to four hours at a time during the day regularly. Clearly that newborn thinks that the daytime is actually nighttime and vice versa. So to avoid that problem, wake them up after a couple hours, make sure that they’re exposed to that natural light as well, so that we’re sending a very clear message to your baby’s body that this is not the time for him to be giving you that bigger stretch of sleep that he is likely capable of giving you off the bats.
Now, as of today, as I am recording this podcast episode, I am so excited to let you all know that I have a newborn sleep coaching program coming out very, very soon called Getting a Head Start All about newborn sleep, which is there to teach you how you can get your newborn off on the right foot in the sleep department from day one from very early on, so that you can maximize your little one’s sleeve, really understand what your baby needs, get them off on the right foot, and potentially avoid really big problems down the road. This program was inspired by the fact that my son, jj, because of all of the advice in this program that I applied to him when he was a newborn, he was giving me eight hour stretches of sleep consistently uninterrupted from the age of six weeks and onwards.
So that one bigger stretch of sleep that he was able to give me off the bat because of all the healthy sleep hygiene that I was implementing from the very beginning, that one stretch of sleep just kept getting bigger and bigger overtime until that amazing day came that I was able to sleep eight hours uninterrupted consistently, and it was a game changer. And so that was when I started teaching this class, How do you get your newborn off on the right foot from day one? And now I have made it into a pre-recorded program available for purchase at any time, so it’s not out yet, but I’m gonna be talking all about day night confusion, as well as everything else that you need to know to make that newborn stage as manageable as possible so that you can actually learn to really love having a newborn. So very, very excited for that. Keep your eyes out for it. If you’re not already on my email list, head to my website, my Sleeping baby.com so that you can get on my list and be the first to know when this program becomes available. So very, very excited. All right, thank you all for listening in, and I hope you all have a wonderful day.
Thank you everyone for listening, and I hope you all have a wonderful day. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a review and share this episode with a friend who can benefit from it. I also love hearing from my listener, so feel free to DM me on Instagram at my sleeping baby or send me an email at email@example.com. Until next time, have a wonderful restful nights.