Sleep and Human Development

Kathryn A. Lee and Libby A. Rosen

in The Oxford Handbook of Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195376203
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Sleep and Human Development


This chapter focuses on sleep and circadian rhythm from fetal development through the first few years of life. Fetal rhythms are likely a result of maternal influences, whereas cycled light exposure affects sleep patterns in preterm infants. In the first few weeks after birth, about two-thirds of the day is spent asleep. Each sleep bout begins with REM, and a newborn spends over half its sleep time in REM. As REM sleep decreases over time, it is replaced primarily by wake time during the day. At about 2–3 months, sleep spindles appear and infants begin to sleep longer at night. During the transition from childhood to adolescence, adult sleep–wake patterns emerge prior to physical signs of puberty, and diminished delta sleep is seen earlier in girls than boys. The chapter ends with a description of normal sleep changes during the transition from adult to old age.

Keywords: Fetus; infant; newborn; bed sharing; breastfeeding; adolescent; puberty; middle-age; adult; elderly

Article.  14822 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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