Most parents with toddlers will associate “nap time” with that blissful pocket of day when the house is quiet, and otherwise neglected tasks can finally be done without a tiny person running around yelling “Muuum” or “Daaaad” every few minutes.
Well, in disappointing news for parents who look forward to this precious moment (but… important information for toddler development), it turns out napping after the age of two could actually be impacting the quality of sleep kids get throughout the night – thus affecting things like behaviour, cognition and physical health.
Parents of Toddlers: Translated. Post continues after video.
While parents have previously been encouraged to make sure kids under five nap during the day (a task that can sometimes be a nightmare in itself), guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation in the US suggest that children over two should forgo the daytime Zs.
This is because, according to experts, children over two, who require between 10 and 13 hours of sleep a day, are able to self-regulate the necessity for a nap, meaning forcing them to sleep during the day could affect their night time sleep.
Just like when you let yourself take a lazy Sunday afternoon nap on the couch, leaving you bouncing off the walls past midnight as Monday looms.
Professor Karen Thorpe and a research team from the Queensland University of Technology have also looked into nap protocols of childcare centres, to discern whether or not the children really needed those naps in the first place.
Here’s what Professor Thorpe told Kidspot:
“Parents should not assume that day sleep and night sleep are the same and therefore by giving them a nap they’re getting more sleep, because that doesn’t happen,” Professor Thorpe says.
“Once they no longer biologically need sleep during the day all you’re doing by making them nap is subtracting from night sleep because you disrupt it.”
She concluded that it should be up to parents and caregivers to approach day time naps on a case-by-case basis – considering whether each individual child really needs an extra sleep on any given day.