Friday, March 18th is World Sleep Day. Celebrated each year, the day is commemorated to show the benefits of healthy sleep and to amplify that sleep is a foundational pillar of human health. The theme for 2022 is “Quality Sleep, Sound Mind, Happy World.”
World Sleep Day is an annual event sponsored by the World Sleep Society to raise awareness of sleep disorders and highlight the burden that they place on society.
Many efforts focus on encouraging healthy adult sleep, but fewer resources exist to guide healthy and safe sleep options for infants. To help commemorate World Sleep Day, Perinatal Services BC is sharing some tips and key learnings to help parents and caregivers create the safest sleep environment possible for their newborn and infant children.
- Make every sleep count. When it comes to sleep, a baby's sleep environment is important – day or night. It is never safe for a baby to sleep on a couch or chair – either alone or with a caregiver.
- Share your room. Have your baby sleep in the same room as you for the first six months.
- "Back to sleep." Putting your baby to sleep on their back, on a firm, flat surface free of blankets, pillows and toys is the safest way.
- Frequent wakings are okay. In the early weeks of life, babies' frequent night wakings are normal and may be protective against sudden infant death during sleep.
- Breastfeeding is protective. Breastfeeding can help boost a baby's immune system and protect against sudden infant death during sleep.
- Swaddling is not needed. It's safest for your baby not be swaddled for sleep. Current evidence shows that swaddling can make it hard for your baby to breathe, can cause overheating and can increase the risk of sudden infant death during sleep.
- Avoid smoking. Being smoke-free before and after giving birth protects your baby. It's also important to avoid an environment where there is smoke, to protect your baby from breathing it in.
The tips given above are part of an online practice resource developed by Perinatal Services BC for health-care providers called Safer Infant Sleep. This resource offers providers with current, evidence-based information and key messages to help facilitate and encourage an open discussion with parents/caregivers on infant safe sleep practices with the intent of reducing the rate of sudden, unexpected infant death during sleep.
"I am so glad to see these changes in safe sleep messaging." - Health-care provider
Repeated conversations during the preconception, pregnancy and postpartum periods can help health-care providers support families in making informed choices regarding their infant’s sleep practices. The resource notes that promoting the physical and mental wellbeing of parents/caregivers also helps support safer infant sleep practices.
- For parents and caregivers: To learn more about safer sleep for your baby, visit the trusted provincial parent resource from HealthLink BC or discuss with your health-care provider.
- For health-care providers: Visit the Safer Sleep resource page on Perinatal Services BC’s website to help support your conversations with parents and caregivers.
- For more information about World Sleep Day, visit the World Sleep Society’s homepage.