Why Is My Baby Not Sleeping Deeply?

Being a parent of a newborn, the struggle is truly “real” when it comes to getting your little one to sleep. We struggle to get them down to sleep and we struggle to keep them asleep, especially in a deep sleep. When your baby isn’t sleeping deeply each day, that can have negative impacts on their sleep/wake schedule down the road and beyond. So, we suppose that is the million dollar question these days. “How do I get my baby to sleep more deeply each day?” Let’s dive in, shall we?

How Do Infants Sleep, Anyway? Infants 4 Months and Under.

The first step in understanding how to get your baby to sleep more deeply is understanding their sleep cycles in general. All babies, under 4 months old, have two distinct sleep cycles. Those are called REM and Non-REM. Now, for a quick reminder, REM stands for “Rapid Eye Movement”, not “Really Entertaining Music” like the band REM. Easy mistake to make! In all seriousness, though, it is important to know the differences between these two stages of sleep for your little one. Here are a few details.

REM Sleep

  • The first part of your infant’s sleep cycle is in REM sleep. Your baby’s eyes are closed and they appear to be asleep, but they are very easily woken up at this stage. This is because REM sleep for your infant is very active. They may cry, twitch, jerk, smile, laugh and open their eyes. Any loud noises or sudden movements can wake them easily in this stage.
  • The REM phase of your infants sleep cycle usually lasts about half of their total sleep cycle, which is roughly 15-20 minutes.

Non-REM Sleep

  • After 15-20 minutes, your baby is finally officially in Non-REM sleep. This type of sleep is associated with helping cognitive development, knowledge retention, and learning. It is a much deeper and calmer state of sleep for infants and babies under 4 months old.
  • In Non-REM sleep, your infant will be more peaceful while sleeping and will likely be easier to transfer to the crib if you have been holding them.
  • The Non-REM phase of your baby’s sleep cycle is approximately 15-20 minutes, after which they will cycle into another REM phase or wake up completely.

Getting Your Baby To Sleep More Deeply

Now that you know a little bit more about the different stages of sleep in a baby’s daily sleep cycle, you can use that to help inform your decisions around getting and keeping them asleep.
Pay attention to your baby’s sleep stages that they may be experiencing at any one time. We know that during REM sleep babies under 4 months old can easily be startled and awakened. Try to make sure that your house is as quiet as possible during these times. You may also want to invest in a white noise machine or smartphone app as this will help them get startled less by regular house noises while they are drifting off into a deeper sleep.  

To get your baby to sleep more deeply, you must first pay attention to their needs. Make sure that they are topped off on milk with a fresh diaper and have been properly burped since their last feeding. Eliminating their base physical needs can go a long way in getting them to a deep sleep faster and more consistently. 

Parting Thoughts

Sleep is vitally important to parents and infants alike! We hope these tips have helped you along your journey. If you have any questions about getting your baby to sleep, or your baby in general, please reach out to us HERE. We are experts in all things baby and sleep and would love to help!


If you have questions about your child, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to help. Please reach out to us here!


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The content contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice of any medical professional. It is based on our opinions and experience working with newborns and their families. Other’s opinions may vary. It does not represent the views of any affiliated organizations. The reader understands that the term “Babynurse” is often a word used to describe a newborn caregiver. However, unless otherwise disclosed, we are not licensed nurses in any state. By reading and/or utilizing any information or suggestions contained in this blog, the reader acknowledges that we are not medical professionals and agrees to and waives any claim, known or unknown, past, present or future. This blog may contain affiliate links.
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