sleep regression

There is No Such Thing as a Sleep Regression!

I know, I know, I know, I KNOW!!! The baby slept like a rock star for 3 1/2 months. Then, all of a sudden, she wakes up screaming bloody murder, makes you get out of bed, you stick a (clean) knuckle in her mouth for 1.25 seconds whereupon she falls back to sleep. She repeats this every 90 minutes.  For two. long. weeks. The sleep deprivation begins to rob you and your partner of your collective humanity. And I have the cojones to tell you that there’s no such thing as a sleep regression?


Yes I do. There’s no such thing as a sleep regression.


The term “sleep regression” is actually relatively new.

You won’t find the word “regression” mentioned in Ferber. Not in Weissbluth. Nope. Ditto for Sears, Babywise, Happiest Baby on the Block… none of them mention the concept. Now all of these authors and yours truly are aware of those periods in a baby’s life when she begins waking up and scaring the stuffing out of you.  We just don’t refer to them as “regressions”. We call them… well, we don’t really call them anything, which is perhaps why an unfortunate expression became attached to the thing.

So where did the phrase come from? (hint: Australia).

Biography of a Sleep Myth

Prior to 2008, according to Google Trends, the expression “sleep regression” was basically never used. Then it began to take off and became more and more common in Google searches (fig. 1). As of this writing (early 2016), it appears to be continuing to rise in frequency. That means that increasing numbers of parents have heard the phrase, or worse, believe in it and are searching for help to “fix it”.

sleep regression
Figure 1. Trend over time for usage of the term “sleep regression”

Sorry, Australia.  Don’t Mean to Pick on You

The phrase is big in Australia (figure 2). Perhaps because of proximity, Kiwi’s (people from New Zealand) like it a lot too. Canada and the UK are next.  But the phrase is taking off here in the US as well, and with the same time course as in the rest of the world. But as we shall see, “sleep regression” is big in some states, and unheard of in others.

sleep regression
Figure 2. World-wide distribution of Google searches for “sleep regression”

And the Winner Is… Massachusetts!

Again, for reasons about which one can only speculate, my home state of Massachusetts leads the US in terms of searches for the phrase “sleep regression” (fig 3). When I began sleep coaching parents 15 years ago, I had (obviously) never heard the expression, and neither did any of my clients.  Now it’s being mentioned with alarming frequency. It tends to be big in the mid-Atlantic states, and in the Pacific Northwest. The Plains and northern tier appear to be blissfully unaware.

sleep regression
Figure 3. MA leads in states searching for “sleep regression”

The Important Things to Remember

In future posts, I will describe in more detail what a “sleep regression” actually is. Here’s a foretaste: they are not actually regressions, these changes are progressions, meaning your baby is growing and developing! For now, remember these important points:

  • Don’t Panic: these changes in your baby’s/toddler’s sleep are normal, healthy and expected
  • These disruptions will not last long: a couple of weeks at most
  • You can manage them relatively easily.  In future posts I’ll show you how.


Published by

Rob Lindeman

Rob Lindeman is a sleep coach, entrepreneur, and writer living in Massachusetts. Ready to Get Rid of the Pacifier? Sign up for our FREE Video eCourse: The Paci-Free Method

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *