Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Need for Naps

Naptime -- euphemistically known as "Quiet Time" -- is an essential part of our day. The younger kids nap, the older kids enjoy some quiet alone time and Mom gets some time to relax and unwind.

But apparently, there's more to it. Did you know that proper sleep is an essential component of learning? Sleep helps us secure memories and learn new skills. For children, proper sleep may even be more important. One study shows that sleep-deprived sixth graders perform at the level of fourth-graders.

Getting boys the sleep they need is no easy task, though. My almost-three-year old has discovered the world, and finds crawling in and out of bed and onto his dresser far more amusing than taking a nap. My eleven-year old would rather stay up and read.

They both probably need more sleep than they're getting. According to the experts, my three-year-old should be sleeping at least 12 hours per day; my eleven-year-old, 10-11 hours per day.

That's where naps come in. Far from being optional, naps help children (especially infants and toddlers) meet their daily sleep quota. Look at it this way: naps are at least as important as any other learning activity. According to renowned sleep expert Elizabeth Pantley, "naps – or lack of naps – shape all twenty-four hours of your child’s day. The quality and quantity of your child’s naps influence his mood, behavior, health, and brain development. "

Having trouble getting your little darling to take a nap? Check out Pantley's new book, The No-Cry Nap Solution.

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