That’s right, all those sleepless nights spent trying to coax your baby to sleep while you countdown the hours until you have to get dressed and head into work could be a signifier that you have given birth to a child genius.
According to Peter Fleming, professor of infant health and developmental psychology at the University of Bristol, there is a link between ‘very high levels of developmental and intellectual achievement and not sleeping throughout the night’. This is because ‘human infants are not designed to sleep for long periods, it’s not good for them’.
In fact Flemming is adamant that ‘the idea that babies should sleep through the night is a '20th-century belief’ and that there is ‘absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there is any benefit to anybody from having a child that sleeps longer and more consistently’ (except for maybe the parents who are surviving on only 3 hours of z’s, but hey, who cares about them anyway).
At 3:34 in the morning in your sleep-deprived state, after the screaming baby in your arms has woken you up for the fifth time tonight, you may feel like sending professor Flemming a strongly worded email, and we wouldn't blame you.
However, you can take comfort in the fact that children who are kept closer to their parents and have their needs more readily met have 'greater empathy and more self-regulation' according to Darcia F. Narvaez, professor of psychology at Notre Dame University. What is more, professor Narvaez asserts that studies have shown that the same babies that keep you up at all hours have more cognitive ability, less depression and even have a greater conscience.
You can also take solace in the fact your baby may be sleeping through the day and staying awake at night so they can spend more time with you and have your undivided attention. “How sweet,” we hear you say through gritted teeth.
'Biologically staying awake during the night is a big advantage because they will have more attention from their two primary caregivers at that time of day than at any other, because there are fewer distractions. From a biological point of view what the baby is doing is completely normal and sensible. It just doesn't fit in with our 21st-century expectations,' says Fleming.