Daytime Naps, 3 Reasons Why Not To Miss Your Child’s Naps

Baby Sleep

Daytime Naps – 3 Reasons Not To Miss Them

It’s unrealistic to expect to stay home for every nap, every day.  I get it; life is busy.  There’s that playdate or the Mommy and Baby class, a doctor’s appointment or you’re celebrating a family birthday.  It’s not the end of the world if your child has to miss a nap, but if you make a habit of it, your child could become very overtired and start to show signs of sleep deprivation.  In addition to not getting the sleep they need, here are 3 reasons why you might not want to miss your child’s nap.

When a child misses much needed daytime naps, they become overtired and the body reacts by increasing the production of cortisol.

1. The more tired a child is, the worse they will sleep at night

It’s a common sleep myth that the more tired a child is, the better they will sleep at night.  Many people think that if a child doesn’t sleep during the day and is extra tired, they will crash at bedtime and sleep more soundly throughout the night.  In fact, the opposite is true.  When a child misses much needed daytime naps, they become overtired and the body reacts by increasing the production of cortisol.  This stress related hormone actually makes children more alert and can make it much more difficult to fall asleep.  Cortisol can remain in the body for several hours which is why you might see more night wakings and early morning wake-ups.

If you don’t keep them well-rested, the fatigue will cause an increase in cortisol production which could make your child fight their nap even more the next day.

2. A missed nap results in the “witching hour”

When a child misses their daytime naps, they often get cranky and easily frustrated towards the end of the day.  They experience that “witching hour” and there is nothing you can do to calm them or make them happy.  When you see these signs, they are really telling you that they are tired and need to go to bed.  If your child misses a nap, regardless of the reason, offer them an earlier bedtime. If you don’t keep them well-rested, the fatigue will cause an increase in cortisol production which could make your child fight their nap even more the next day.  This can turn into a vicious cycle, so its important to keep them well rested with an earlier bedtime.

Without them children become very drowsy and it becomes difficult to retain new information. 

3.  Not all sleep is created equal

Naps are physically and mentally restorative to children and they are important for learning and cognitive development.  Without them children become very drowsy and it becomes difficult to retain new information.  As well as being important for cognitive development, not all naps are created equal.  There is more REM sleep in the morning nap which is linked to emotional restoration, while the afternoon nap has more non-REM sleep which is linked to physical restoration.  This is a good reason why we don’t want to drop their morning nap too soon.

Remember, sleep begets sleep.  The better rested your child is, the better they will sleep overall.  If your child is well-rested and getting adequate sleep during the day, it will be easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Look here for more on sleep training and creating an ideal bedroom for sleep.

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

Do NOT use this Website for medical emergencies.

If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Daytime Naps, 3 Reasons Why Not To Miss Your Child’s Naps

Baby Sleep

Our Kids Need To Log Off And Get Moving

Do your kids come home from school, drop their backpacks, and hit the sofa for hours of TV, computer, or video games? Do they spend weekends messaging friends or updating their social media platforms?

Shockingly, Canadian kids log an average of just under eight hours of screen time each day – more time each week than their parents spend at work says ParticipACTION, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation. Further, the organization confirms that only 5% of our children are active enough to meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommend at least an hour of heart-pumping exercise or active play every day. You may think your kids are active enough, but the odds are stacked against it.

Excess screen time has been linked to obesity, declining physical, mental and emotional health, poor academic performance, behavioural issues, and less time for play. Can you imagine the boost to our children’s health if we substitute just an hour of screen time for active play every day?

Excess screen time has been linked to obesity, declining physical, mental and emotional health, poor academic performance, behavioural issues, and less time for play.

Encourage your kids to log off, head outdoors, and to enjoy more active play. Better yet, be an active role model and join them! These tips can help:

  • Help your kids understand the value of active play: exercise, a connection with nature, time with friends, feeling happier, increased energy, and an opportunity to try new activities;
  • Be a role model and limit your own screen time. Log off and give your kids your undivided attention;
  • Encourage a balance between homework and active time throughout the school year – even kids in high school need time to play;
  • Encourage your kids to invite friends over after school and on weekends for active outdoor play;
  • Remove TVs and computers from your child’s room – and have them power down all devices an hour or two before bed;
  • Watching TV? Be active at commercial breaks;
  • Let babysitters and teachers know you strive for a balance between screen time and active time and encourage them to do the same;
  • Advocate for more active breaks at school – some schools are allowing children to stand at their desks and are building physical activity into curriculum strands. The more our kids move, the better!

We struggle with screen time at our house too. Both my daughters (ages 13 and 16) have a tendency to turn to their devices the instant they find themselves with free time on their hands. Role modelling, stressing the importance of finding balance in life, helping my kids discover and pursue a variety of active interests, encouraging them to be their own transportation, and encouraging them to get together with friends, have all helped replace screen time with active time.
Is too much screen time a concern at your house?

How have you helped counter it?

Let us know your tips @DrDinaKulik and @Cate_Cameron.

Worried about playground safety? What to do when the weather is gross outside?

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

Do NOT use this Website for medical emergencies.

If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Jenn Kelner, CPA CA

About Jenn Kelner, CPA CA

Jenn Kelner is a mother of three children, including twins, and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant at BabyZzz. Just as every family is unique, Jenn supports many different sleep methods and works directly with families to design a solution that will help them become well-rested, happy families.

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