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Mandatory Nap Times May Hurt Children’s Nighttime Sleep

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Published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, a new Queensland University of Technology study is confirming that nap time isn’t beneficial for all children.

Conducted on the behalf of the Sleep in Early Childhood Research group, the Australian-based research team consisted of Dr. Sally Staton, PhD student Cassandra Pattinson, Professor Karen Thorpe, and Simon Smith, who made it their goal to explore the link between mandatory nap times in daycares and how much sleep children were able to collect at night.

A total of 168 children between the ages of 4 and 6 were included in the groundbreaking research, with their sleep examined while attending daycare and then again a year later.

Children who were exposed to more than 60 minutes mandatory sleep at childcare slept worse at night, sleeping an average of 24 minutes less than the children exposed to mandatory naptime. Additionally, the sleep issues continued as they started their first year of school.

According to Dr. Stanton, approximately 30-40% of children experience sleep issues before even starting school, increasing their risk of serious health issues, behavioral problems and developmental issues.

She also stressed that there isn’t a set age for when parents should put an end to nap time as each child has their own unique sleep needs. Some children may benefit from extra sleep, while others may experience nighttime sleep struggles.

“Given the number of young children who attend childcare and the relationship of night time sleep with multiple health outcomes, childcare sleep practices represent an important focus for child health,” explained study author Dr. Sally Staton.

Examine your child’s sleep duration at night, ensuring that it falls within the recommended guidelines of the National Sleep Foundation. Then, talk a licensed pediatrician about making adjustments to nap and bedtimes as deemed appropriate for your family and your child’s overall well being.

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