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Genetics to Blame For Baby’s Night Time Sleep Habits

iStock_000004122839XSmall-1One of the hardest things for me to get used to when having a baby was the change in my sleep schedule. My sleep (or lack thereof) was completely unpredictable because Harlan’s sleep was unpredictable. She was up several times in the middle of the night and was so hard to get back to sleep. I honestly thought, in my sleep deprived state, that I was never going to get a full night’s sleep again.

While we did find out that it was colic that was keeping her up for most of the night, there is also another aspect to blame for her poor sleep habits; genetics. A new study out of Canada studied the sleep habits of 1,000 identical and fraternal twins and results showed that it was the child’s genes that played a big role whether or not the child slept through the night. Researchers also said that although genetics largely determine your child’s nighttime sleep pattern, there are also ways that we can help them get a better night’s sleep.

“The genetic influence is only part of the equation that controls sleep duration. One should not give up on trying correcting inadequate sleep duration or bad sleep habits early in childhood,” said study author Evelyne Touchette, a psychology researcher at Laval University in Quebec.

The magic age to really start implementing great sleep habits? 18 months. “This is a good time to implement sleep strategies in order to improve the child’s nighttime sleep habits if they are not already in place,” said Touchette. This is the age that environment played more of a role in how they slept at night rather than genetics. So although genetics do play a  large role, it’s our job as parents to make sure that we are always trying to set up good sleep habits for our child.

The study also mentioned that genetics do not play a role in your child’s daytime nap schedule as that is something that is more controlled by the environment.

I have two little girls with completely different sleep habits at night and I can see that both of them resemble the sleep habits of my husband. Harlan could go to bed late every single night and would sleep in every single morning if we let her, which is exactly the way that I am. Avery, on the other hand, would go to bed early and wake up at the crack of dawn to get her day started, just like my husband. Avery has slept well during the night since she was born and Harlan didn’t sleep well during the night. It’s amazing how two babies that are related can have completely different night time sleep habits!

More from Lauren on Baby’s First Year:

Read more from Lauren at her personal blog, A Mommy in the City, where she chronicles her life living in New York City with a suburban mentality. For more updates, follow Lauren on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram! Check out more of Lauren’s Babble posts at Babble Baby.

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