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Children's Health

Infant Napping/Sleep Cycle Problems



My daughter is 3 months old and cannot seem to stay asleep longer than 30 minutes during the day. We`ve darkened her room, used white noise, tried rocking/swaying/or some sort of motion for the duration of her sleep to try and "get her past" the 30 minute mark, we`ve tried holding her motionless to do the same but nothing seems to work. At night, she will go down at approximately 7pm, sleep until 11, go down again until 3 or 4, and then she wakes up at 5:30am to start her 30 minute sleep cycle. It`s very obvious she is still tired upon waking, is cranky and fussy, rubs her eyes, seeks comfort sucking, etc. But she will not stay asleep.

She`s already being treated with two medications for reflux, and is on hypoallergenic formula and I have eliminated soy and dairy from my diet to help with the breast milk.

Can you offer any suggestions for why she might be waking at that 30 minute mark? And perhaps what we might be able to do to get past it?



From the details you have given, it would appear that your infant daughter is sleeping about 9 hrs during the night and then has 30 minute sleep cycles during the daytime. More information is necessary since there is a wide range of normal total sleep time over a 24-hour period at this age (10-19 hours). Infant sleep cycles are generally 50 to 60 minutes, and most infants sleep in 1.5- 3 hour blocks during the day.

So your child's awakening every 30 minutes during the day is unusual. However, the fact that your daughter is already being treated for gastroesophageal reflux is important. Gastroesophageal reflux can be associated with insomnia in infants and children. The fact that she is being breast-fed, receives a hypoallergenic formula and 2 medications for reflux are all important points that need to be explored to explain her altered sleep pattern. It would be important to know if your child is growing normally, how much she drinks at a feeding, if she has persistent vomiting or coughing and if she is a generally happy baby. A careful physical examination may also be important for clues to her sleep pattern.

Would suggest that you discuss your child's insomnia in the setting of gastroesophageal reflux with your pediatrician or family or family physician since referral to a pediatric gastroenterologist might be helpful.

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Response by:

Mark   Splaingard, MD Mark Splaingard, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University