Why daytime sleep is so important
Yes, daytime sleep is important! Typically if your child is under the age of 2.5 years they require some daytime sleep, otherwise known as NAPS (an acronym for Necessary Adult Peace Sessions – and that isn’t just a fun play on words). These naps help your child manage their level of fatigue and limit sleep debt that, if left unchecked, can end up causing all sorts of sleep problems and potentially health issues.
It really is a myth that depriving young children of day sleep will help them sleep at night. While that can work for adults and some older children, the opposite is true for babies and young toddlers. Here I’ll give you three reasons why daytime sleep is so important. And why you should be making naps a priority for your baby or young child.
Developmentally they need it
Sleep plays a vital role in stimulating neural pathways; both in organising and engaging the five senses.
With all the new information babies take in daily, it needs to go somewhere. This information needs to be filed and organised in the brain. And the sorting of this filing system, including memories and new skill sets, happens during sleep. Better sleep equals better learning. This is true no matter what your age, but babies and young children are taking in so much more new material from their surroundings, this extra sleep taken during the day is even more important.
And it’s not just the brain that’s at work during sleep. Sleep helps rejuvenate our bodies, including the immune system. There’s a lot of cellular repair going on during a nap. If you’ve ever had several weeks or months (or heaven forbid, years) of sleep deprivation, you’ll have likely noticed that you’re often ill. If you’re deprived of sufficient sleep, your body doesn’t have enough time to carry out this repair work, and you’ll become much more susceptible to illness. And children and illness are not a happy mix.
Naps help prevent overtiredness
Overtiredness is a baby’s worst enemy. For unlike adults who become sluggish when tired, a baby or young child will become manic and overly restless when they’re pushed past tired and not sleeping well. And this hinders sleep even more.
This can often present itself as a baby or child who doesn’t know what he or she wants. They’re not happy when held, but also don’t want to be put down. And they can’t seem to focus on anything for any amount of time. This overtired fatigue can also mean that your child struggles to eat well; and that in turn can lead to problems if they wake early due to hunger.
Furthermore, overtiredness makes it that much harder for a baby to settle. And when sleep finally does come, it’s often more fragmented, with lots of wakes and earlier mornings.
Daytime sleep gives you a break
If your child isn’t napping, chances are you’re not getting any downtime! And this shouldn’t be discounted. Time for you is vitally important. You need a form of structured break time to relax, or to get chores done. Or maybe just have a shower and eat! It is not selfish to want a break in your day.
If naps aren’t going well yet, they really are worth focusing on. Knowing how much age-appropriate sleep your child needs is the first step, along with making day sleep a priority. Consistently good daytime sleep does take longer than night-time sleep to come right in most cases. But just hang in there and keeping chipping away at it.
And if night sleep isn’t great (after the 4 month mark especially), then look at making some changes to improve that too. Sleep really does beget sleep. A good night sleep really is much more conducive to a better day sleep. And everyone needs a good night’s sleep!
If you’d like a step-by-step sleep plan to help your child sleep well, I’d love to offer you a free initial phone call. You can book in a call here. And if you’re not already following me on Facebook or Instagram for sleep tips, fun facts and giveaways; please do that too. I look forward to chatting soon.