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Daytime naps in children above 2 years may lead to poor nighttime sleep quality

Posted:  Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The total length and quality of sleep in a toddler is generally associated with good health and development causing parents/caregivers to encourage daytime napping. However, a recent review found that though good, daytime napping in young children above 2 years of age may lead to poor sleep quality in the night.

The researchers aimed to find out the impact napping has on young children's night-time sleep quality, behaviour, cognition and physical health. They reviewed 26 relevant studies from a pool of 781. These studies evaluated the effect of napping in children up to 5 years of age. The results of the review were published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The researchers found evidence suggesting that beyond the age of 2, daytime napping may delay sleep onset and shorten the overall amount of night-time sleep a child experiences. The link between napping in young children and its possible detrimental effects on health could not be evaluated due to the differing nap patterns of the children in the studies.

Talking about these findings, the researchers said, “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, whether at home or in childcare contexts, once sleep has consolidated into night.” The researchers suggest reviewing the daytime napping history especially in children experiencing sleep issues.

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