There are so many reasons that some babies have poor or disruptive sleep patterns, and we can’t always find the perfect sleep solution for every baby. But research suggests that there is a link between anxiety and depression in the mom – prior to the birth of the baby – and sleep problems in the first year of a baby’s life. The concern about this is that sleep disturbances in the first year of life are often followed by sleep problems at three years of age, which are often accompanied by behavioural problems in the child.
Added to this is the obvious emotional strain placed on the mother of a baby who doesn’t sleep well. For someone who has battled with anxiety or depression before, this places her mental health at risk again. For this reason, it is just those moms who need their babies to sleep well who are often presented with babies who don’t.
The ability to sleep peacefully – for babies, children and adults – is intricately linked with emotional and psychological health, and with one’s ‘state of mind’. Sleep disturbances and insomnia go hand in hand with anxiety and depression, as well as many other mental illnesses.
Babies need to feel safe and secure in order to sleep well, and when there is tension, overt or covert conflict, any kind of distress or even great excitement in their environment, they may struggle to sleep. Babies pick up on the issues, fears and troubles of the people around them. Although they can’t understand what these are about, they seem to feel unsettled when the people around them are not at peace inside of themselves.
Loads of advice is available about how to get babies to sleep well, but this usually doesn’t take into account the subtle ways in which the mental state, both present and past, of parents, caregivers and siblings, affects a baby’s sleep.
Contact one of our ‘Babies in Mind’ practitioners if you are struggling either with your own or your baby’s sleep patterns.