Should Preschoolers Nap?
3 and 4 Yeaar Olds Are Very Busy Creatures
If you walk into a preschool room at any given time there is constant movement. These children are very busy. I can't tell if their bodies or mind is choosing the next action. They just seem to take off.
You can clearly see that their mind is actively working. It is taking in all the information available to it. But I don't know if it is directing or making the decisions.
They are not all doing the same types of things. Some are sitting, some are standing, some are running, some are talking, some are screaming, some are making noises, some are crawling, some are spinning, and the list goes on.
As a Preschool Teacher, I sometimes just sit and observe. I try to do this at least once a day. The view is magnificent and enlightening. It is also mind-boggling.
They operate as individuals and as little units, part of the momentary group around them.
One reason why it is important for children to sleep.
Kids are busy and they are learning. Their little brains are absorbing from everything they see, hear, touch, smell, feel, taste, and experience.
Throughout the day children gain a wealth of information.
This information/knowledge is stored into their memory while they are sleeping.
This is one reason why it is important for children to sleep. According to the experts preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours of sleep each day. If a child sleeps from 7:30pm to 7:30am, he or she would get the amount of sleep needed. However, it is very unlikely that a child will be in bed sleep at 7:30pm and not wake until 7:30am.
When a child has a 7:30pm bedtime, the process starts at 7:30pm. It will be anywhere from 15 to 75 minutes before the child actually falls asleep. And in some cases it may take longer.
Most preschoolers will wake up before 7:30 am if they went to sleep around 8:00pm the night before. Therefore, the child did not get the needed 12 hours of sleep he or she needed for that day.
Naps enable preschoolers to get the needed amount of sleep.
The extra 1 to 2 hours of sleep that a child will get during a nap will help the child to get the needed amount of sleep each day and help the child to receive the many other benefits of sleep.
Is napping the reason children do not want to go to bed at night?
"I cannot get my child to go to sleep at night."
"He's just not sleepy when it is time for him to go to bed."
These are common complaints from parents who have preschoolers. Many of these parents believe that the child is not sleepy when it is time to go to bed because their child took a nap earlier that day. Does the child go right to sleep at bedtime when he does not take a nap during the day?
Children learn from their experiences. What happens at bedtime? What is the bedtime ritual?
Is the child disappointed or angry when it is time for him or her to go to bed? Does the child ask to stay up longer? Is the child suddenly hungry or thirsty? How many times does the child want to hear the story again or a new story? Is the child frightened needing to sleep with his or her parents?
These are common conversations and/or debates that challenge parents at bedtime. These conversations generally take place whether a child has taken an earlier nap or not. In fact some experts say that children who nap go to bed easier than those who do not nap. Also, when children are "over-tired" it is harder for them to fall asleep.
For the past 3 years I have taught prekindergarten. Many of the children will take a nap. In my conversations with parents most of the children who don't sleep during naptime are the same children that are having a hard time going to sleep at bedtime.
Many of the children who willingly lie down and fall right to sleep are the children who have a set bedtime and generally go to sleep at that time. I have noticed that many of these children come to school alert and they are not what I call "crank tanks." They are easily directed and re-directed. They are busy and active which are characteristics of a 4 year old.
Napping Has Benefits
Napping during the day has benefits, benefits that are not just for the young but also for adults.
Sarah Klein gives 6 reasons to take a nap during the day in an article in the Huff Post.
1. Napping Boost Alertness
2. Napping Improves Learning and Memory
3. Napping Increases Creativity
4. Napping Boosts Productivity
5. Napping Lifts Your Spirits
6. Napping Zaps Stress
As parents and teachers we would like for our children to experience all of the above.
So why not? Preschoolers should nap.