A recent review that was conducted over dozens of studies on this subject concluded that there is actually no scientific backup in favor of preschoolers napping. The results were published in the online edition of the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal.
The two lead authors, both researchers at the Queensland University of Technology School of Psychology and Counseling in Australia went over 26 studies on the subject of daytime sleep benefits among children under 5. They focused on information regarding behavior, stress, obesity, accidents and thinking abilities.
The results were different from what they initially expected:
“The most significant finding from our study is that there is not support in the current body of research for enforcing naps in preschool children to improve their health and well-being.”
It seems like, although many parents are concerned with their children having a nap at noon, this aspects is actually unimportant. According to the study, daytime naps were linked to going to bed at a later hour at night and sleeping less overall. Also, the research showed that, for children older than two, napping was consistent with a general sleep of a poorer quality.
Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York considers that this review proved how the medical world puts too much value –from a medical and developmental point of view- in the need for preschoolers to take a nap during the day.
This, however, doesn’t mean we should prevent our children from napping. It just shows that there is no need to oblige a child older than 2 to nap during the day if he doesn’t feel tired. Children naturally outgrow napping.
The study also showed that there is no age limit for when a child should stop taking naps. The two researchers stated that:
“The age of 2 years should not be seen as a definitive point from which napping should be discouraged. Parents of young children should respond to their child’s individual sleep need.”
Adesman explained how during the preschool stage, children go through a certain transition when it comes to sleep behavior. And this transition is different from one child to another, this is why, for some children, naps are beneficial while for others, sleeping during daytime is just counter-productive.
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