- Does nap time really disturb the night sleep? What science says about it?
The human brain depends on the experiences and interactions at the firsts years of age to be able to develop. It is in early childhood that the major synapses (neural connections) are defined and that will make the difference in the future.
A child’s brain continues to process information even when they are sleeping. For that reason, “Nap Time” or “Quiet Time” is important.
The excess of stimulation is also a problem. Children have been overestimulated with toys, tablets, television, and activities. And sometimes, parents just forget that they still need to have time to process all that information.
Have you noticed when a child is having a tantrum that it can be associated to the lack of sleep (or excess of stimulation)? Usually, tantrums are related to their mechanism of defense. They feel irritated, scared, angry, emotional, and all those symptoms are connected to what the children’s brain project calls a “Body Need”: eat, sleep, be cleaned. If a child needs to sleep, for example, you will probably notice the lack of concentration, silly playing, crying and/or angriness.
Perhaps the reason that a child is giving you a hard time about going to bed at night is not due to nap time done in the afternoon, but the activities they are doing before going to bed.
Let’s understand how their body, biologically, works: the brain needs a darker place to start producing serotonin, the hormone of sleeping (the hormone responsible for the fully recovery). Also, the body needs to slow down the rythm to start relaxing muscles, and also “tell the brain” that they are getting ready to “log off.” Consistancy is important. Once you have a routine at home that includes a good process for “bed time” (read a book, sing a calm song), they will start enjoying it.
If at home, before sleeping time, the child has the opposite of this environment (calm and darker), being stimulated with television, tablets, phones, computers, and/ or intense activity, they will need more time to understand that is time to rest. Or they will just fall asleep eventually from exhaustion — which does not provide an efficient result.
In conclusion, nap time for young children can happen in the middle of the day and that will give them quality learning time and the possibility of creating new synapses, and at the same time, plenty of time to get tired by the end of the day.