Baby Sleep Cycles


All adults, babies and children have sleep cycles.


A sleep cycle is the stages of sleep we go through during our sleep. We move from drowsy to light, to deep, to deeper, and finally restless sleep and cycle again if needed. The diagram below shows how a typical sleep is made up of 2 separate sleep cycles (click to enlarge).

The length of time it takes for each cycle is dependent on age.

  • Babies sleep cycles vary from 30 – 50 minutes, adults are around 90 minutes for each sleep cycle.
  • Babies usually need to sleep through at least 2 sleep cycles every time you put them down for a sleep.
  • Some babies have trouble moving from one sleep cycle to the next. You may need to help them to resettle, until they are able to do it themselves.
  • During a sleep cycle your baby may make noises, cry out, be restless, have irregular breathing, or open and close their eyes.
  • If your baby is restless, wait, watch and work out if your baby can resettle before deciding to get your baby up.

For more information, see Sleep Cycles from the Raising Children’s Network.