What is the 4 Month Sleep Regression?
You will eventually learn all about my struggles with Ella's sleep, but for now, let's start with the dreaded 4 month regression. Like most things, this wasn't even "a thing" that I was worried about because I simply didn't even know about what it was, what it meant, and how it would turn my world upside down (over and over again).
For starters, Ella was never a good sleeper. When she was just a newborn she suffered from colic and silent acid reflux, so I think those things played a big role in her discomfort that eventually led to poor sleep habits. Personally, I did everything I was supposed to help Ella sleep. During the day, I made sure the room was lit. Within a few weeks, she definitely knew the difference between day and night. I made sure to be more active during the day. I tried to tire her out to cause longer stretches of sleep. I implemented a sleep routine by the time she was two months old and stayed VERY consistent. By the time Ella was three months she was sleeping 3 hour stretches during the night. I was very content with that. I figured by the time she was 6 months, she would progressively start sleeping longer stretches. But then I started to talk with other moms, and I kept hearing about the 4 month sleep regression. At first, I thought it was a joke. Yet, the more research I did, the more I realized that this was an actual thing that might hit us soon.
SPOILER: It hit us. It hit us hard.
A lot of people say the 4 month regression is a myth. For you, I hope it is. In my case, it was reality. My harsh cold, sleep-deprived reality. If there is any comfort in any of this, it's the fact that there is actually a scientific reason as to why this happens. Let me explain. During this time, your baby experiences a permanent change in their sleep where he/she cycles in and out of sleep cycles. Remember, newborns don't have distinct sleep stages. So by the time a baby reaches the 4 month mark, they begin to develop sleep patterns. This means cycling in between light and deep sleep--just like us! Some kids are able to put themselves back to sleep. Some are not. Ella was part of the latter.
Around the beginning of our 4 month mark, Ella began to wake up every 40 minutes, on the dot, every hour, until about 4 am. Around 4am she would sleep for about two hours until 6am. That was it. That was our night, everyday for about two months. Some people said that the effects of the sleep regression would eventually fade out, but of course, that was not the case for us. Ella never recovered from the 4 month sleep regression. So this blog doesn't really end well (for now). It wasn't until she was 6 months old that I decided I had enough and sleep trained her.
Sleep training was the best decision I ever made. Period.