Unlocking preschoolers’ full potential may be found in the everyday practices we take for granted. Napping, for example, has proven benefits for the youngsters. Not to mention uninterrupted work and break time for parents as well.
Studies have shown that nap-deprived children are more likely to show negative emotions like anger, sadness, and anxiety when faced with trivial activities like solving puzzles compared to rested children.
Why does napping matter?
Napping, in developing children, allows their mind and body to rest and recharge, which aids in their yearly growth. It also affects the children’s reflexes and emotional response to stimuli; the well-rested they are, the faster they respond to simulated activities.
How many hours of nap time do preschoolers need?
Children aged 3-5 need 10-13 hours of sleep, including naps. Parents need to set a consistent bedtime schedule and pre-napping sessions to achieve this. Naps need only to be 1-2 hours long in this age group. After the age of 5, children often stop napping and instead focus on getting a solid night’s rest.
What are the benefits of napping?
Preschool is a fertile time to maximize learning, and recent studies have shown that napping is associated with improved long-term academic performance and cardiovascular health.
Among the benefits of napping are the following:
Enhances their memory – the principle of how napping improves children’s memory has something to do with the process of how they are stored. Sleep is a time when your brain gets to replay memories without any cuts or disturbances that are present when awake. Not to mention, the replays during this time are fast-forwarded, creating more repetitions and, therefore, better retention. This process happens in children’s hippocampus, a part of the brain that stores short-term memories. The more memories are replayed here, the sooner they move up into the cortex, where they get stored longer and are retrieved easier, too.
Help them stay fit – studies show that children who have consistent and enough napping time have a lower risk of obesity. The reason may be connected to how children tend to eat more when tired. They also often choose the unhealthy food when in this state. To top it off, when children are tired, they don’t get to participate actively in activities, nor do they have the energy to exercise, contributing to their health concerns.
Encourages a positive mood – preschoolers often throw tantrums and fits on days they lack sleep. Those who skip their nap time are observed to be more irritable, anxious, and respond negatively to unprecedented events. On the other hand, well-rested kids show a better response to stimuli and are more likely to exude a positive predisposition during daytime activities. A positive mood among children affects a parent’s day, making it more.
Tips for better pre-napping sessions
Naptime needs some build-up sessions among preschoolers for them to associate it well in their daily routine. These preparations often work during the first two or three tries.
Provide a structured time for a nap – create expectations for the day, including nap time, so that children will be briefed firsthand and get used to the routine when nearing the scheduled time for a nap, transition from active games to slow and quiet interactions so that children can ease their way to sleeping then.
Use positive reinforcement – children respond well to positive reinforcement, but this doesn’t mean giving them treats or rewards. Although this approach could be effective during the first few days, it’s not sustainable in the long run. So instead, give them praises and thank them for a well-behaved response.
Play a nap time song – association of this song to nap time could help set the mood for it. Children respond to consistency, which helps build up their time and muscle memory.
Set up a quiet environment for sleep – this may be a different room from the area where they used to play. Provide a separate site where they could associate it with napping and nothing else but it. Make it cozy and comfortable for them. It may also help hide any distractions to sleep – be it a toy, food, or any other object they use for playtime.
Educate children about nap benefits – teach children the benefits of napping. They can already grasp the concept you’ll be imparting at this age. Let them know how taking a nap can help them grow healthy.
Teach simple meditation techniques – children learn by example at this stage, so it helps to demonstrate some meditation techniques that can help calm them down in preparation for their nap.
Adjust to the changing times – you can shift nap time to 30 mins to an hour during daylight savings time around November and March every year. Expect erratic waking time among children around these times of the year.
What if a child resists sleep?
If a child resists sleeping during nap time, remember that communication is key. Keep the child in a separate area and talk to them. It is important to separate the child first from the others to not disturb their nap time. Provide a different soothing activity that prepares him or her for nap time. Accompany the child and incorporate pre-nap preparations all over again and repeatedly until they fall asleep.
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