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Sleep Disorders

Baby Agitated Sleep

06/07/2010

Question:

I have a nearly three months baby and we are having a hard time at night ever since he was born. He sleeps many hours but never quietly. After e falls aspleep he remains silent and still for about an hour, after that e starts moaning, moving and stretching ALL THE TIME, he never stops or is quiet for more than a few minutes although he rarely opens his eyes. It`s very difficult to sleep around him, I have to use ear plugs and take a sleeping pill to be able to sleep in the same bedroom he does. This makes me really sad and worried because I`m afraid he`s not resting properly. He seems to have a little bit of a reflux problem and he is taking a proper formula to that problem. But it doesn`t help much. He hasn`t slept quietly for one single night since he was born. My questions are: 1 - Is this normal? 2 - What can be the cause? 3 - Will it get better? 4 - Should I do something about it? I really would appreciate your help because this is being extremely stressful for us...

Answer:

This question requires assessing both infant and maternal sleeping issues.

1. It’s important to recognized that three month old infants may have a variety of different movements during sleep, including sucking, eyes twitching and various arm and leg movements, including stretching. Infants generally do not snore or make respiratory noises loud enough to keep an adult awake. Mild reflux with occasional spit ups is also common in infants. Important parts of the history that would help in the evaluation include:

Given that there are a number of behaviors in infant sleep that are normal, whereas others would be considered abnormal, it is important for a pediatrician to examine your son and determine that he is normal and that there are no problems occurring during sleep. A formal sleep study and Sleep Specialist evaluation may be needed to fully assess the symptoms you describe.

2. Important parts of your sleep history that would help in the evaluation include:

The type of sleeping pills you are currently using is especially important since, if you are breast-feeding, they may not be safe for your baby. Did the doctor prescribing them know you are breastfeeding?

The fact that you have to use earplugs and take a sleeping pill to be able to sleep in the same room is a problem if you are the only one who can monitor your baby at night and may need to wake up quickly to care for him. This is not a good situation. There needs to be an adult available to help your baby at night while you are sleeping as it’s important for you to get good quality sleep for you to be at your best. Some mothers may have difficulty sleeping months after delivery as a sign of post partum depression.

You sound quite anxious about how your son is sleeping. Having your son evaluated may provide you with some relief from your worries that may help you sleep better. If this does not improve your sleep, then you should discuss your sleeping issues with your own doctor to determine how best to improve your own sleep.

For more information:

Go to the Sleep Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

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