Beating the nap-time blues

Young children who are required to engage in day-time naps in childcare settings when they do not sleep are more likely to have disturbed sleep patterns that affect their behaviour and learning.

Professor Karen Thorpe, a psychologist from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), said it's time to consider the effect of enforcing strict daytime nap routines on small .

"In Australia, approximately 50 per cent of children aged three to five attend Early Childhood Education and Care settings and a day-time /rest period is a prominent feature of their daily routines," she said.

"We've seen that the children that engage in day-time sleep are more likely to go to bed later and have more night waking than children who do not and their can impact the entire family's functioning and well-being."

Professor Thorpe, who was this week named among this year's Financial Review and Wetpac Group 100 Most Influential Women, said studies into sleep show that most children begin to grow out of day-time naps between the ages of three and five.

Being forced to lie down when sleep is no longer biologically required can lead to emotional and behavioural challenges for the child and childcare staff.

A reluctance to sleep may also mean the child is tagged as a "problem sleeper", despite following completely healthy sleep patterns.

"During the years children's are characterised by a gradual consolidation of sleep into the night-time and a reduction of sleep in the day-time," she said.

"While most studies agree that rates of day-time sleep decrease beyond age two and cease by the time children enter school, there remains considerable cultural variation in beliefs regarding when children should stop napping in the preschool years.

"Emerging evidence from studies examining the association of levels of the stress hormone cortisol with and childcare sleep practices suggest that children required to lie-down without alternative activities, when they do not sleep have higher; feelings of stress at night sleep-time."

Other papers presented at the conference include a study into a link between sleep restrictions and impulsive behaviour in teenagers and a link between Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and a preference for high fat or high fibre foods.

Related Stories

Researchers explore childhood development and sleep patterns

date Jul 24, 2013

Be it the stress of poor work-life balance and everyday living or the seemingly endless stream of technological advancement unleashed globally on a daily basis, sleep patterns have become neglected for some and nightmarish ...

Team finds daytime naps enhance learning in preschool children

date Sep 23, 2013

Sleep researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst today offer the first research results showing that classroom naps support learning in preschool children by enhancing memory. Children who napped performed significantly ...

Sleep education helps families of autistic children

date Sep 29, 2013

Parent sleep education is beneficial in improving sleep and aspects of daytime behavior and family functioning in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), according to a Vanderbilt study published in the Journal of ...

Recommended for you

Should there be a dress code for doctors?

date 14 hours ago

If you live near a hospital, you've probably seen the sight: a young physician in loose blue scrubs, standing in line at the grocery store. You can't help but wonder if the young physician is lost. After ...

The importance of long chain fatty acids in early life

date 15 hours ago

Fats are essential constituents of breast milk. They supply the infant with energy, and are also essential for growth and development. Some fatty acids, key components of dietary fats, play an important role ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.