What is the normal sleep pattern in infants?

Updated: Nov 05, 2019
  • Author: Pradeep C Bollu, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Infants have an overall greater total sleep time than any other age group; their sleep time can be divided into multiple periods.

In newborns, the total sleep duration in a day can be 16 to 18 hours and NREM–REM sleep cycle every 45–60 minutes. REM sleep comprises 50% of the sleep in newborns. Until age 3 months, newborns transition from wake into REM sleep. Thereafter, wake begins to transition directly into NREM. [3]

Over the first several months of life, sleep time decreases; by age 5–6 months, sleep consolidates into an overnight period with at least 1 nap during the day. REM sleep in infants represents a larger percentage of the total sleep at the expense of stage N3. 

Overall, electrocortical recorded voltage remains high during sleep, as it does during periods of wakefulness. Sleep spindles begin appearing in the second month of life with a density greater than that seen in adults (see Sleep Physiology). After the first year, the spindles begin decreasing in density and progress toward adult patterns. K complexes develop by the sixth month of life. [3]

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