What are sleep regressions and what can I do about it?

Posted by: Josanne Verhoof in

Sleep regressions are short periods of time, usually for about 2 to 4 weeks, where your little one suddenly has got a hard time falling asleep, wakes up frequently, looks unhappy and restless or wakes up very early.

What causes the sleep regressions?

There are multiple reasons why a sleep regression is caused. Often, sleep regressions are caused by developmental milestones, physically, mentally or emotionally. And it can be really tough!

Factors which can also be the reason of the sleep regression are:

The most common sleep regressions

Sleep regression 4 months

  • Arises because at this age it takes longer for them to enter their deep sleep and they need more help during the transfers in their sleep cycles. 

Sleep regression 8 and 9 months

  • Arises because of a developmental motoric milestone, fear of missing out and the transitions to 2 naps. 

Sleep regression 12 months

  • Arises because of a developmental motoric milestone and developing a sense of object permanence. 

Sleep regression 18 months

  • Arises because of a developmental speech milestone, developing a sense of object permanence and the feeling to become more independent. 

Sleep regression 24 months

  • Arises because of a developmental speech milestone, developing a sense of object permanence and the need of boundaries. 

What can you do during a sleep regression?

If your little one is in his sleep regression caused by teething, illness or other ailments, I would love to refer to our blog post ‘How can I help my baby to sleep by ailments’. This blog will be posted this Thursday!

Step by step plan by a sleep regression:

  • Use a more strict and structured day- and night routine, so your little one’s biological clock can get used to this. This will help him to get through this sleep regression.
  • Keep track of this more strict day- and night schedule. Try not to get off track. Every day that this schedule differs a lot, your little one will feel like he suffers from a jetlag. 
  • Make sure you use a wind down ritual of 30 minutes. When your little one is learning his new developmental milestone, he will become overstimulated during the day. To help him to reduce those stimuli, you can extend your wind down ritual to 30 minutes. You can read more about the wind down ritual here.
  • If your little one wakes up during the night and suddenly decides to crawl or talk, it is best to not enter their room. As long as they feel happy, it is best to just leave them. It can take up to 5 days to get back on track and sleep through the night again. If it takes longer than 5 days, you can always send us a message! The more interaction you have got with your little one, the higher the risk of creating a new negative sleep association. 
  • Make sure that the sleep environment fits your little one’s needs. Make sure: the room is dark (so dark that you should not be able to read a book in there), a calm room ( no toys in or around the crib) and a white noise machine. You can read more about the perfect sleep environment here.