Understanding the sleeping structure of your baby will allow you to respect his sleep more and not overreact when he wakes up every quarter to an hour or several times a night in the first couple of months of his life.
Can you picture:
The sleep of a newborn can be divided into 2 phases (1 agitated or active and 1 quiet) whereas the one of an adult is constituted of 4 (slow wave, quiet sleep or slow-deep, slow wave and rapid eye movement; REM or paradoxical sleep)
The two phases composing the sleep of the baby form a cycle lasting 45 minutes in average whereas ours, the adult cycle, lasts 90 to 120 minutes, in other words, up to 3 times longer! After these 45 minutes the baby enters a phase of awakening during which the slightest external stimulation such as a noise or even internal such as hunger will surely wake him up.
Between 2 and 9 months : It is around the age of 2 months that this sleeping structure begins to modify itself by adding a new phase known as the slow wave which inserts itself in-between the two previous stages. Furthermore the sleep cycle begins to lengthen and reaches approximately 70 minutes. The succession of the cycles although increase especially at night when they can reach up to 12 cycles.
A full night or a long nap is a series of multiple cycles : hence we must teach our child to find his own sleep if we cannot manage on his own to fall back asleep after a cycle has come to pass.
This is why if your baby wakes up too frequently it is not necessarily because he has a need for anything but only that a cycle is over.