Sleepy Time: Why Napping is Key for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We don’t often think about how sleep affects us, but we should. Sleep is just as important for our health as nutrition and exercise. It is even more important for toddlers and preschoolers, whose bodies and minds are developing so fast. Many people know that sleep is an essential part of this growth process, however, one key component of sleep is often overlooked – napping. Here are some reasons why napping is so important for toddlers and preschoolers:

Helps Children Learn and Remember

Just like sleeping at night, napping plays a huge role in cognitive development for toddlers and preschoolers. A recent research study has found that toddlers who took long naps right after receiving new information demonstrated higher levels of learning and memory 24 hours after being taught. Another study showed that preschoolers who took an hour long nap remembered 10 percent more of what they had learned than their peers who were kept awake.

Assists in Physical Growth

Toddlers and preschoolers are constantly going through growth spurts! Because much of this growth occurs while they’re sleeping, it’s important that they get the extra sleep that naptimes allow. Depriving them of naptime could impact their physical growth just as much as their mental growth.

Reduces Cranky Behavior

Toddlers and preschoolers who skip naps are more likely to experience fatigue-induced crankiness. Studies have found that children who didn’t get any daytime rest showed more signs of anxiety and heightened negative emotions, while their positive emotions were dulled.

Creates a Better Nighttime Sleeper

This might seem counterintuitive since napping during the day for adults can mean a hard time getting to sleep at night. However, the opposite is true for children. A lack of daytime rest for toddlers and preschoolers could cause them to be overtired and irritable, making them more difficult to put down at night.

At Prep Academy Schools, we recognize the importance of napping and integrate naptime into each of our programs. Infants run on their own schedule and can nap for as long as they want.  From the age of one until beginning preschool, toddlers are given a two-hour napping period.  Preschoolers receive an hour and a half long nap, while 4 and 5-year-olds receive a one-hour napping period. Together with parents, we can reinforce healthy sleep habits that develop happier, healthier kids!

More in the Sleepy Time Series: Getting a Full Night’s Sleep and Dealing with Nightmares