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The 4-Month sleep regression in your baby

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Have you heard of the dreaded four-month sleep regression? How did you all handle it?

Let me share my experience when Harper, my second daughter, went through the sleep regression. By 6 weeks, Harper, the dream baby, was either sleeping through the night or waking up once and then sleeping until 7:30 AM. Was I tired? Yes. Exhausted? Not really.

Then, it happened. Harper turned four months and two days old, and the sleep regression hit.

I consider myself lucky because my best friend, business partner, and twin sister, Liz, has extensive experience in treating babies as an osteopath. So, I turned to Liz to understand what exactly was happening to Harper. Why do babies go through sleep regression around four months, and can osteopathy help? Here's what Liz had to say:

Firstly, the 4-month sleep regression is absolutely normal (though hard and exhausting). As challenging as it might feel right now, congratulations, your little one has reached a developmental milestone!

To understand what's happening with your baby, it's essential to know the four stages of sleep

1. Stage One: The earliest stage of sleep, also called drowsiness or pre-sleep. It's the lightest stage of sleep, and we can easily be woken. During this stage, our bodies relax and experience slow rolling eye movements.

2. Stage Two: The predominant sleep stage during a regular night's sleep, comprising about 40-60% of our sleep time. It's still considered light sleep, but the body reduces activity to prepare for deep sleep. Body temperature increases, and heart rate decreases.

3. Stage Three: Moderate to deep "slow wave" sleep. In this stage, our bodies repair, rejuvenate, grow, and develop. We are least likely to be interrupted or woken by external stimuli during stage 3.

4. Stage Four: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It's when we do most of our dreaming, and our brain consolidates information and memories. Breathing is rapid, irregular, and shallow during REM sleep. If woken during this stage, we may feel tired or groggy upon waking.

Normally, at the age of four months, your baby starts going through all four stages of sleep. These changes result in more time spent in lighter sleep, making it easier for them to wake up. Additionally, your baby is going through developmental changes, becoming more alert, which contributes to the ease of waking up.

The good news is that although this marks a permanent change in your baby's sleep cycle, they will adapt. They will sleep again, and so will you!

Can osteopathy help? There is limited research on the benefits of osteopathy in improving babies' sleep. However, many parents bring their kids in for treatment to help with sleep. From my clinical experience, osteopathic treatment is really helpful in removing tension, and when tension is released from our bodies, we feel more relaxed. As a result, we often see improvements in babies' sleep patterns after treatment.


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