When my son, John, was a baby, he slept like a pro (once we got him to sleep through the night, that is). He would sleep for 12 hours and still take one to two naps. The more sleep he got, the less he seemed to get sick and the happier he was. But little did I know just HOW important sleep is to their brains, bodies and beyond. Read on to discover all the benefits of snoozing in the afternoons!
The Benefits of Napping
Your child gets smarter
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that young children demonstrated higher levels of learning and memory the day after being taught if they took a long nap right after the information was presented. Here’s the key: All rested soundly during the night, but only the ones who had also napped during the day remembered what they had learned twenty-four hours later. “This needs further study,” the lead researcher told The New York Times, “but maybe babies lose some information if they don’t nap after learning.”
Your child’s body grows during sleepy time
It’s not just their brains that are developing; it’s their bodies too. A lot of their growth is happening while they’re in dreamland, so depriving them of that time impacts them physically as much as mentally.
Lack of sleep negatively affects your child’s immune system
“A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived,” Balachandran says from WebMD.com. “And inflammatory cytokines go up. … This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.”In simple terms, sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function.
Your child is missing out on emotional growth without a nap
A missed nap or two may not seem like a big deal to friends and caregivers who see the child for an hour and then leave. But talk to the parents later that evening or the next day—when they’re dealing with extra fussiness, whining, and tantrum-throwing—and it’s a different story. Research backs up the case for this fatigue-induced crankiness. As explained by sleep scientist Dr. Monique LeBourgeouis, “Sleepy children are not able to cope with day-to-day challenges in their worlds.” A University of Colorado study shows toddlers between 2 and 3 years old who miss only a single daily nap show more anxiety, less joy and interest and a poorer understanding of how to solve problems, said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, who led the study. “Many young children today are not getting enough sleep, and for toddlers, daytime naps are one way of making sure their ‘sleep tanks’ are set to full each day,” she said. “This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems.” A rested child is a well-behaved and happy child.
A Daytime Sleeper is (Usually) a Better Nighttime SleeperI’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t prioritize their children’s naps because ditching the daytime snooze sessions helps their babies and toddlers sleep better at night. But that’s not actually the case. According to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, skipping naps usually leads to a child that is overtired by bedtime. And while you’d think an overtired kid will fall asleep quickly and easily, the opposite is often true: They start acting stressed, irritable, and wired, making bedtime more of a battle. The only time napping seems to interfere with nighttime sleep is when it occurs in the late evening (no surprise there—it’s tough to nap at 5:30pm and still go to bed by 8pm!). But other than that, daytime naps actually facilitate better nighttime sleep.
So How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
- Birth to 6 months: Infants require about 14 to 18 total hours of sleep per day.
- 6 to 12 months: Babies this age usually sleep about 14 hours total for the day.
- Toddlers (1 to 3 years): Toddlers generally require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, including an afternoon nap of 1 to 3 hours.
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers average about 11 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. Most give up this nap by 5 years of age.
- School-age (5 to 12 years): School-age kids need about 10 to 11 hours at night. Some 5-year-olds might still need a nap, and if a regular nap isn’t possible, they might need an earlier bedtime.
Sleep is POWERFUL. It’s like your child’s kryptonite, shielding them from potential illness while also giving future abilities like locking in learning and promoting emotional growth. So the next time your child complains about napping, tell them that Superman and Wonder Woman take naps. And even superheroes listen to their mother.
Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at Sunrise-Montessori.com or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!