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赤ちゃん
赤ちゃん

赤ちゃんの早起きの理由と対策

赤ちゃん

赤ちゃんがまだ夜が明けないうちに起きてしまうという「赤ちゃんの超早起き」に悩まされてしまっているご家庭も多いのではないでしょうか。赤ちゃんが「超早起き」をするのは体内時計のリズムが関係しています。

この「超早起き」な赤ちゃんに対してどのように対処すれば良いのでしょうか。

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赤ちゃんが朝の4時に目が覚める

赤ちゃん

朝、元気に赤ちゃんが目を覚まします。とてもご機嫌です。
しかし、時計の針を見ると、なんとまだ朝の4時…このような経験をお持ち(あるいは現在進行形でご経験中)のお母さん・お父さんは決して少なくないと思われます。

赤ちゃんが非常に早起きであること自体は、一般的に考えれば悪いことではないような気がします。「早起きは三文の得」を赤ちゃんの頃から実践しているということは将来、もしかしたら大きな得をする子に育つかもしれません。

しかし、赤ちゃんの早起きは、世話をするお母さんやお父さんなどにとってはたまったものではありません。ましてや、夜泣きもあって夜なかなか眠らずに朝早起きという状況が重なってしまった場合には、お母さん・お父さんの疲労はピークに達してしまいます。

赤ちゃんが早起きしてしまう場合、その原因はどのような点にあるのでしょうか。また、その対策はどうすれば良いのでしょうか。

赤ちゃんは独特の睡眠リズムを持っている・ウルトラディアンリズム

赤ちゃんが早朝に早起きをしてしまうのは、赤ちゃんが独特の睡眠時間のリズムを持っていることが大きく影響します。

私たちは、朝起きて日中に活動し、夜になったら眠るというリズムが一般的と感じています。これは、私たちの体の中にそのような生活・睡眠のリズムを取ることが習慣として身についているためです。私たちが一般にとっている朝の起床から日中の活動、夜の睡眠というリズムをサーカディアンリズムと呼びます。このサーカディアンリズムはおおむね、時計のリズムに近いものとなっています。

しかし、生まれたばかりである赤ちゃんは客観的な時計の生活リズムをまだ体内に保持していません。体内にあるのは赤ちゃん独特の生活・睡眠リズムです。この独特の睡眠リズムをウルトラディアンリズムと呼びます。

サーカディアンリズム・ウルトラディアンリズムとはなかなか難しい感じの言葉ですが、つまり赤ちゃんは客観的な意味での時計のリズムをまだ体内に保持していないということです。そのため、赤ちゃんは自分自身の自由な体内リズムに従って睡眠・起床をするために大人から見れば早起きとなってしまうということになります。

もちろん、赤ちゃん自身は自分の体内のリズムに従って眠り、起きているだけですので、早起きという感覚はないでしょう。

このように赤ちゃんが早起きをしてしまうのは、体内時計が独特であることが大きな要因となっています。

赤ちゃんの早起き対策

このように赤ちゃんが早起きなのは、体内時計のリズムが原因であるとは言っても、可能であればあまりにも極端な早起きをやめてもらいたいというのが育児をされる親御さんなどの本音かと思われます。

そこで、赤ちゃんがあまりにも早起きの場合には以下のような対策方法をとることがおすすめできます。

一つは昼間の時間に赤ちゃんにたくさん運動をさせるということです。たくさんの運動をすれば疲れて夜はぐっすりと眠ります。「疲れれば眠る」という非常に単純な方法ですが、あまりにも早起きな赤ちゃんに対しては効果が大きい方法です。

また、体内時計のリズムをなるべく早く身につけさせるように、早朝の早い時間は電気をつけず、暗い部屋の状態にして、朝6時から7時ころに明かりをつけるということも効果的です。つまり、体内時計を早くサーカディアンリズムに近づけてあげるということで過剰な早起きは避けるという方法です。

ただ、急激に赤ちゃんの体内時計のリズムを変えることは難しいばかりでなく、体調を壊してしまう可能性もありえますので、なるべくは昼間の時間帯に運動などをさせて、疲れさせることで夜から朝にかけて眠るという習慣を身につけさせることが良いということができるでしょう。赤ちゃんの睡眠時間のリズムは成長に従って自然に客観的な時計と一致するサーカディアンリズムになることを待つほうが自然であるためです。

まとめ:赤ちゃんの「超」早起きの理由と対策

以上、本文で述べました赤ちゃんが早起きである場合の理由と対処方法のポイントをまとめますと以下のようになります。

  • 赤ちゃんがあまりにも早起きである場合、その原因は赤ちゃんの体内時計のリズムがまだ客観的な時計のリズムと一致しておらず、独特の体内時計リズムを持っていることが大きな原因となります
  • 赤ちゃんがあまりにも早起きである場合、対策としては、昼間に運動などをさせて十分に疲労させるということがお勧めできます
  • 赤ちゃんの過剰な早起きを治すために体内時計のリズムを調整させるという方法も考えられます。ただ、赤ちゃんの独特の睡眠リズムを壊してしまうと体調を崩すおそれがありますので、可能な限り運動で夜の睡眠時間を多くさせることが良いと言えます

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