Overtiredness occurs in babies who are past the point of being “sleep-ready.” Once babies are overtired, their stress-response system is activated which leads to the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. All of these make it harder for your baby to relax and calm down.
Furthermore, overtiredness tends to be a cyclical pattern. This means that the more overtired your baby becomes, the more difficult it is for them to fall asleep. Still, there are techniques you can follow to effectively put them to bed. One of these strategies is creating an effective sleep environment for babies.
To guide you, here are 6 ways to create the ideal sleeping environment for your overtired baby.
Your Basic Guide in Creating a Safe Sleep Environment for Your Overtired Newborn
1.Place Baby on His Back When Sleeping
It’s best to put your overtired baby to sleep on his back as it allows him to breathe properly through the night. This lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or SIDS) and helps him sleep longer and better at night.
If you put your baby on his side when sleeping, he may accidentally roll over his stomach and breathe in exhaled air. As he inhales his own breath, the oxygen level in his body drops while the amount of carbon dioxide rises. Aside from the activated stress hormones from overtiredness, this could be one reason why your baby wakes up in the middle of the night. Furthermore, side-sleeping or stomach-sleeping can even lead to SIDS.
Did You Know? Putting your baby to sleep on his stomach increases the risk of SIDS by 1.7% to 12.9%.
2.Share the Bedroom with Your Newborn
To further minimize the risk of SIDS, it’s advisable to let your baby sleep near you. However, this does not mean you have to share the bed with your newborn. Bed-sharing is dangerous as you can accidentally roll over him and suffocate him while you’re asleep.
Simply share the bedroom with your baby and put his crib near your bed. This easily allows you to attend to any needs he might have during the night.
3.Set the Right Bedroom Temperature
Unlike adults, newborns don’t have enough insulating fat in their bodies to keep themselves warm. That’s why it’s important to set the right bedroom temperature in order to help overtired babies sleep through the night.
If you are swaddling your baby use a breathable natural fiber wrap or swaddle such as bamboo, cotton or merino wool. Avoid using acrylic fibers such as polyester and fleecy blankets as these will trap the heat in and cause your baby to overheat. Natural fibers allow for heat exchange and avoid overheating. Layer the blankets on top of your baby and tuck them in firmly so they are not a hazard to your baby. Loose blankets can lead to overheating and suffocation. In winter and cool climates, it can be particularly helpful to use merino wool blankets as this trap the heat in but also allow it to escape if it needs to, avoiding overheating.
4.Avoid Unnecessary Beddings
Keeping your baby warm does not mean you have to put lots of blankets, pillows, and other beddings in his crib.
Avoid doing so as this poses a risk for suffocation which can eventually lead to SIDS. Keep beddings as minimal as possible. All you really need is a blanket to swaddle newborns (0-3 months) and comfy sleepwear, such as the Hello Night Children’s Sleepwear in Merino Wool to keep babies (3-12 months) warm.
5.Turn Off Light Sources
Like adults, exposure to light can also affect overtired babies’ sleep. It’s been proven that light affects the body’s internal sleep clock—the biological mechanism that regulates sleep-wake cycles—which interferes with the quality and quantity of sleep your infant gets.
Furthermore, light can stimulate overtired newborns even more as it increases the level of melatonin—a hormone that helps your body know when it’s time to sleep—in their bodies. This poses a serious problem from getting healthy sleep.
In order to combat these challenges, it’s a must to turn off the lights when putting your overtired baby to sleep. This helps him calm down and doze off to rest.
However, aside from completely blocking out the light before his sleeping time, the best way to help your baby fall asleep easily is by implementing a bedtime routine he can follow. After all, overtiredness occurs when his body is already past the point of being ready for sleep.
Start by avoiding any exposure to blue light 60 minutes prior to your baby’s sleep. By creating a dimly lit room environment, you’re signaling his body that it’s time to rest. Doing this can also teach him the difference between day and night at an early age.
Tip: Need to change your baby’s nappy in the middle of the night? Use nightlights with a red bulb as research has shown that this particular wavelength is less disruptive in your infant’s sleep.
Keep Noise Levels Low
Aside from light, overtired babies are also sensitive to loud noises. Likewise, a completely silent sleeping environment can be quite disorientating for him as he’s used to the bodily sounds inside his mum’s womb.
Do know that newborns can perfectly sleep well with some noise. In fact, playing white noise can actually calm and relax your overtired baby. Still, keep the noise down—in between 50-65 dB—as loud sounds can easily startle and wake him up. You can also try lullabies to soothe your fussy baby as the sound of your voice could be very comforting for him.
Did You Know? When singing to your newborn, you’re actually releasing a hormone called oxytocin which allows you to build a stronger bond with him. It’s also an effective way to establish bedtime routines to help him sleep easily at night.
Overtiredness simply means that your baby’s body is past the point of sleep-readiness. Fortunately, with simple yet effective tips to follow, you can create the ideal sleeping environment that can help him sleep better and longer at night.
Nurture Parenting, a company in Australia that offers a holistic approach to baby sleep through The Nurture Sleep Program that is designed to take babies from sleepless to slumber.
Nurture Parenting is recognised as Australia’s baby sleep expert. Headed by Karen Faulkner, a Baby and Toddler Sleep Consultant, the company offers The Nurture Sleep Program that helps babies and children on sleep training. This is a tried and tested approach that has already transformed the lives of families through its exclusive baby sleep methods that help baby self-settle and promote blissful sleep.