Unlike the popular belief in letting toddlers sleep for longer hours during the day time, a new research by Australian researches shows that an afternoon nap may actually affect your toddler’s overall sleep quality.
Children who have daytime naps after reaching 2 years or more will turn out to be poorer sleepers at night, said Prof. Karen Thorpe from Queensland University of technology based on 26 international and Australian studies on children under five.
They found that there was an overwhelming evidence of unnecessary napping being encouraged in day-care centres. In their research paper titled “Napping, development and health from 0-5 years: a systematic review”, they argued that oversleeping, hitherto widely acknowledged fact within the childcare sector that it promoted growth, should be re-analyzed.
Reversing the popular belief, she said napping beyond the age of two lengthens the amount of time it takes for a child to fall asleep (sleep onset) and shortens the overall amount of night-time sleep.
“The impact of night sleep on children’s development and health is increasingly documented, but to date there is not sufficient evidence to indicate the value of prolonging napping,” they said.
The researchers wanted to find out what impact napping has on young children’s night-time sleep quality, behaviour, cognition and physical health. After reviewing published evidence for napping in children up to the age of 5 years, they found 26 relevant studies out of a total of 781 to reach their final finding that consistent, if not particularly high quality, evidence indicating that napping affects night time sleep of kids beyond the age two.
The links between napping and any detrimental impact on behaviour, development, and overall health, however, were less clear-cut, they added.
The study has been published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.