Oh naps, why do you have to be such a struggle?! Our children, after 4 months of age need 1 – 3 predictable and restorative naps to get through the day well. However, they prove to be a hard to obtain the length and quality of sleep that is needed. They are though, extremely important for our little one’s health and well being. It it is vital that we work to get on a proper naps schedule after 4 months of age and instill some great napping habits.
When working with our kids on sleep, naps are usually the last to come together (following night sleep and early mornings). This process of getting to consistent naps can take up to a month, if you are doing all of the right things to help your child get the rest their body needs. Yes yes, it feels like a long time, but trust me – it is worth the effort.
Why Are Naps Such a Struggle?!
Here’s the deal about naps: Our internal biological clocks, our Circadian Rhythms, are designed to sleep better at night – the drive to sleep is stronger. In the daytime, our clocks are designed to be more awake – the drive to sleep is not as strong. So, a child may fall asleep, but then wake 30-45 min later…sound familiar? Well, this is because your child’s daytime sleep cycle is somewhere between 30-45 minutes during the day. It is harder to transition from one sleep cycle to the next during the day. This is how we end up with predictably short naps. After a period of time, this can become habitual too.
No matter the age of your child, a nap longer than 30-45 minutes is necessary for it to be restorative to their bodies. As an example, a 2 year old child needs one solid 1.5 – 2 hour naps in the day to help make it to bedtime. Our kids need naps to help their bodies and minds rest and restore to get through the rest of the day. Also, without restorative naps, you may experience night sleep struggles with your child. Age appropriate, restorative naps are vital for healthy sleep.
How Can You Help Naps Lengthen?
You almost want to trick your child’s body that it is night time ;). So the darker, the better in their room. It can help to improve how easily it is to fall asleep and help them to transition to the next sleep cycle (i.e. lengthen naps). When our children go into their dark rooms for nap time (or even bedtime while the sun is still up), the darkness helps to produce our natural sleep hormone, melatonin.
There are specific times of day that your child will get more restorative sleep. If you are regulating your child’s sleep to their internal biological clock, they will sleep better and longer. A longer and more restorative nap is easier to come by.
Creating New Habits –
The only way to create a new habit is through practice, consistency and time, right? So once you have added a great sleeping environment and an appropriate schedule, the next thing to do is just keep going. This is a learned skill. Be consistent. Give your child the opportunity to practice and with time, they will come together.
Keep plugging away you will get there! If you continue to struggle, the team at Good Night Sleep Site is here to help you get those long naps that you desire and your child needs.
Certified Sleep Consultant
Good Night Sleep Site Florida