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Night sleep in stages

Jun 01, 2022

Babies' night sleep is divided into a few stages. Having an understanding of these stages can help you to pinpoint why your baby may be waking at particular times during the night (other than for their normal number of night feeds!).


  • Stage 1: Bedtime. Your baby or child would ideally go off to sleep between 6pm - 7.30pm (when their bodies are naturally primed for sleep). Their melatonin levels (sleepy hormone) are highest and cortisol levels (awake/stress hormone) are lowest at this time, the sun starts to disappear and your baby’s body temp lowers slightly - all of this prepares them for night sleep.

  • Stage 2: If your child wakes 45-60 mins after bedtime, it’s most likely they are overtired or this can be a sign of illness in some cases. Your baby may need some more day sleep, a tweak in their day routine or an earlier bedtime.

  • Stage 3: 9pm to midnight. This chunk of sleep is the most restorative due to being a period of deep REM sleep. Night sleep cycles are 2-4 hours in length. If your baby is waking between 9pm and 10pm, they may have simply woken at the end of sleep cycle rather than waking due to hunger (depending on their age and feeding needs). Sleep before midnight is the most restorative - aim for as much sleep as possible before 12am!

  • Stage 4: Midnight is when your baby comes out of their deepest period of night sleep. It’s common for them to wake here and need a feed due to hunger.

  • Stage 5: Midnight - 4am. Wakes from 12-4am are often due to developmental changes e.g rolling, standing, talking, crawling. Typically the coolest part of the night is 3-4am so your baby may wake here if they are a bit cool!

  • Stage 6: 4am - 7am. Around this time your baby is coming into their lightest period of sleep. Ensure their room is very dark to prevent any sun streaming in and play white noise to drown out birds, people moving about the house etc.


If night waking is an issue for your little one - book in a 15 minute chat with me to talk about how I can help your family.


Jazz is the Founder of Let's Sleep. She is an Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, Midwife, MCHN, Nurse and Mum. Based on the Mornington Peninsula, VIC.

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