Babies grow at an extraordinary rate – they can double their birth weight by time they’re five months old, and triple it by a year old. That’s a lot to grow in such a brief time, and it’s supported with good sleep.
The hormone somatotropin makes your little one grow and is released throughout the day. But approximately 80% of it is released during sleep. A lack of sleep can slow physical development. One study found a link between increased sleep and growth spurts in babies, showing how much it can help them quickly grow out of those size one nappies.
Another study found that babies with sleep problems, including frequent waking and crutches such as being nursed to sleep, were closely associated with mothers who experienced high postnatal depression scores.
Parents who are exhausted may find it harder to maintain good mental wellbeing. Looking after yourself – and the quality of your sleep – is hugely important too. Sleep deprivation signs include panic attacks, irritability, a loss of focus and mood swings.
Your baby’s brain doubles in size by their first birthday and lots of their learning is done while they sleep. There are strong links between good sleep and higher developmental scores.
This is probably because, just like adults, sleep is essential for memory consolidation. It helps infants strengthen memories and things they’ve learned during the day, and process information about the world around them.