New research suggests that gifted babies need less sleep than their peers.
Professor Peter Flemming posits that babies who sleep less at night will grow up to be more intelligent compared to others. But should you assume you’re raising a genius if your baby wakes throughout the night?
Professor Flemming says that no baby should sleep through the night, nor should any adult for that matter. Humans naturally wake during light phases of sleep, and either shift positions, use the bathroom, or simply go right back to sleep. He explains that babies are born prematurely compared all other mammals, so it’s important for parents to help keep them feeling calm and secure while their less than fully formed brain systems develop.
It’s true that infants who develop a secure attachment to their caregivers learn better than their peers. A tiny baby in a carrier will observe the world around her, taking in all the learning opportunities it has to offer because she feels while safe cuddled up against her significant adult. An infant who is stressed and anxious is going to use her brain energy to worry about whether she’s in danger, instead of looking at the colors and shapes in her environment and taking in the language being spoken all around her.
It is also true that babies who are well rested learn better than their overtired peers. A low sleep needs baby is a baby who is well rested with less sleep per day. This baby’s sleep needs may be met with 10 hours of sleep overnight, while most babies will need close to 12 hours overnight. If the baby is getting enough sleep, we may have a gifted child on our hands. However, a baby who sleeps little at night because he has sleep troubles that disturb his slumber may not be well rested enough to process and store sensory information in a way that best supports his intelligence. Sleepy parents may prefer to console themselves with the idea that their little one will grow up to the be the next Mozart, and that’s fine! Just don’t put all your eggs in one basket.