More Sleep Linked to Growth Spurts in Babies, Study Finds

Filed under: Feeding & Sleeping, Research Reveals: Babies, Sleep

sleep in babies

More sleep for babies means more growth, study shows. Credit: Getty Images

Wonder why your newborn is suddenly sleeping longer? No big deal -- she's just busy growing.

A new study, published this week in the journal Sleep, looked at records kept by 23 parents noting their infants' sleep patterns, HealthDay reports. The growth of the newborns -- 12 days old when the study began -- was also measured, the news service adds.

The findings: The babies experienced "uneven bursts of sleep," HealthDay reports, and sleep increased at irregular intervals -- an average of 4 1/2 hours per day for two days. The infants also slept more often -- adding an average of three extra naps a day for two days, the researchers found.

Here's where the growing part comes in -- HealthDay reports the extra sleep was significantly linked to growth spurts in body length. They also gained weight around the belly, Time adds.

The magazine reports that the infants were 43 percent more apt to experience a growth spurt for each extra nap they took, and 20 percent more likely to grow for each extra hour of sleep they got during the bursts of sleep.

"The results demonstrate empirically that growth spurts not only occur during sleep but are significantly influenced by sleep," lead investigator Dr. Michelle Lampl, an anthropology professor at Emory University, says in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release. "Longer sleep corresponds with greater growth in body length."

So, why does extra sleep affect growth in newborns? Lampl says it's not clear, HealthDay reports, but that growth hormone secretion increases during sleep.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.