As the phrase “sleep brings up a child well”shows, sleep is very important for a child’s development. Although most parents require their child to take a nap when they are under 3 years old, research has proven that children over 3 years old also strongly benefit from taking a nap. In this article, we will introduce the effects of naps and how to encourage children to take naps.
Many adults, who take a short nap to clear their brain in the afternoon, perform better at work. This is the same for children.
A research team from Massachusetts University performed an experiment with 40 children 3 – 6 years old during which they played a concentration card game and recorded how much the children remembered. Children who took a nap and those who did not take a nap were separated into two groups.
・When the children took a nap
They played the game in the morning before their nap and also in the afternoon after their nap.
・When the children did not take a nap
They played the game in the morning and then again in the afternoon without taking a nap
After asking both teams to play the game again the next morning, the researchers compared the scores of both teams and the children who took a nap scored 10% higher than the team who did not take a nap. The results remained the same on the following morning as well.
As a result, researchers believe that taking naps has a positive effect on one’s memory and performance.
Napping not only improves memory but also helps relieve stress and builds up immunity so it is a very important part of a child’s development. While they are awake, children are stimulated and absorb what’s going on around them which tires out not only their body but also their brain. Taking a nap allows them to calm down and relax before they move on.
While we sleep, we also discharge melatonin which helps improve immunity. Taking a nap can help protect our bodies from germs. Taking a nap at the same time each day will help regulate one’s sleeping schedule.
Children need to be active in the morning to nap well in the afternoon. Therefore, it is recommended that parents bring young children to the park and play locations like Gymboree in the morning to tire them out. Being out in the sunlight brings out the sleep hormone that helps them sleep better not only during the day but at night as well. Taking a nap too late in the afternoon will affect their how they sleep at night so researchers recommend that children take naps between 1 and 3pm.
Providing a quiet environment after lunch will also help your child get ready for his/her nap. Parents should try to encourage their child to stay away from television and smartphones and instead curl up with a book after lunch. Listening to a book will help them relax and get ready to fall asleep. Patting them on the back will also help them fall asleep.
Napping is very important for your child’s development so let’s make sure we provide the appropriate sleep environment. If your child refuses to take naps or has trouble falling asleep in the afternoon, it is a good idea to rethink their morning activities and provide a quiet environment that encourages them to relax.