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To Enforce or Not Enforce Nap Time In Later Childcare

Update Date: Oct 23, 2013 05:15 PM EDT

Nap-time has always been an essential part in childcare settings, but recent studies explain that this type of sleep may actually negatively affect their behavior and learning once they reach a certain age, not improve it as originally perceived.  

"We've seen that the children that engage in day-time sleep are more likely to go to bed later and have more night waking than children who do not and their sleep disruptions can impact the entire family's functioning and well-being," Professor Karen Thorpe, a psychologist from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), said in a news release. 

Thorpe said, according to studies, children normally outgrow their nap time between the ages of three and five. 

"Being forced to lie down when sleep is no longer biologically required can lead to emotional and behavioural challenges for the child and childcare staff," reported Queensland University of Technology.

Children who nap are then deemed "problem sleepers" when they have trouble sleeping at night although they followed healthy guidelines.

"Emerging evidence from studies examining the association of levels of the stress hormone cortisol with and childcare sleep practices suggest that children required to lie-down without alternative activities, when they do not sleep have higher; feelings of stress at night sleep-time," Thorpe said.

Thorpe said it may be time to take a closer look at the effects these naptimes impose on children's well-being and behavior.  

"While most studies agree that rates of day-time sleep decrease beyond age two and cease by the time children enter school, there remains considerable cultural variation in beliefs regarding when children should stop napping in the preschool years," said Thorpe.

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