Research links naps to poorer night-time sleep -®
Research links naps to poorer night-time sleep
Daytime naps can be a source of conflict between parents and providers, with many families claiming that day-time naps affect their child’s ability to sleep at night.

New research from the Queensland University of Technology seems to support the claims of parents, by demonstrating that children beyond the age two may be poorer sleepers at night if allowed to sleep during the day.

The study, led by Professor Karen Thorpe from QUT's Faculty of Health and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), reviewed 26 international and Australian studies relating to children under five and found there was overwhelming evidence of unnecessary napping.

Professor Thorpe said it was widely acknowledged within the early childhood sector that napping in pre-school children promoted growth. But she said the research had shown it instead had a negative impact on night sleep patterns of children aged two and over.

"There is consistent high quality data that indicates napping beyond the age of two lengthens the amount of time it takes for a child to fall asleep," she said.

The study also investigated the development and health outcomes of children's sleep in relation to cognition, behaviour, salivary cortisol, obesity and accidents.

But Professor Thorpe said the most consistent finding was the link between daytime napping and poorer quality nighttime sleep among children.

Joint author of the study, Dr Sally Staton, said that while the vast majority of early childhood education and care providers have scheduled sleep times and legislation requires providers to make appropriate provision for sleep and rest, there is currently very little evidence to guide practice.

Her research showed that, in the absence of guidance, "child care services employ a large range of practices from no sleep time at all to a mandatory sleep time of as much as 2.5 hours".

"There is a lot of variation in how much daytime sleep an individual child will need and it is important that parents and child care staff work together to support children's sleep during this time," Dr Staton said.
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