How Naps Can Make Your Child Healthier and Smarter

The first few years of life are very critical for your child’s development. A healthy diet, adequate activity and sleep play an important role in her well-being. What is the role of naps then?

By Dr Sundar C Ingaleshwar, Ashwin Dewan  • 7 min read

How Naps Can Make Your Child Healthier and Smarter

Sleep plays a vital role in the development of your child. Napping, in particular, is very important for children between 2 and 5 years of age. When your child doesn’t get enough sleep or naptime, his growth, both physical and emotional, is hampered. Ultimately, this leads to cellular damage because the cells do not get the time required for repair. 

Benefits of napping

  • Promotes growth: Growth hormones secreted when kids are asleep are essential for natural growth.
  • Reduces stress hormones: Production of stress hormones, which are harmful for the heart, are reduced when the child has regular naps.
  • Reduces chances of obesity: Regular naps decrease the chances of obesity in children. Naps regulate hormone secretion that controls food intake and prevents weight gain.
  • Helps prevent infections: Naptime boosts immunity in children – it fight germs and prevents infections.
  • Increases attention: After a good sleep, kids can concentrate and focus better
  • Improves emotional health: Kids who regularly follow a proper nap schedule have better emotional health, which has a positive impact on their development.

Want practical tips to improve the sleep quality of your child? Read the article below.

Prescribed amount of sleep for children

Naptime differs according to the child’s age. Ideally, sleep time range for 2- to 3-year-old children is 10-14 hours. Kids between 3 and 5 years should sleep for 10 hours a day.

Effects of irregular naptime on health

When a child follows an irregular nap time, he has decreased energy levels, which results in low productivity. The child will feel irritated all the times, which also has an impact on the emotional behaviour. This leads to irregular eating habits where the child might eat a lot or not eat enough. According to The Sleep Lady, some negative consequences of sleep deprivation on children include: 

• Difficulty in waking up in the morning

• Hyperactivity

• Increased appetite

• Accident-prone

• Temper tantrums

Lack of naptime can have a negative impact on a child’s mental health. It leads to attention deficiency that will impact his studies. Inadequate naptime is also linked to a child’s diet. Children who do not nap enough or get enough sleep tend to eat more, which can lead to obesity.

What you can do to make your child sleep in the afternoon

The most common reason why some children are unable to sleep in afternoon is due to distraction. This is more evident in joint families where children are unable to sleep as they get distracted by other children in the family.

However, in nuclear families, this cannot be the case and parents have no difficulty in putting their child to sleep. In case your kid is unable to sleep in the afternoon, resort to the following measures.

1) Follow a typical routine: Make your child follow a definite and fixed routine for sleeping and eating. Following the schedule every day will induce sleep at the right time.

2) Physical activity: Encourage regular physical activity in children so that they get tired and sleep at the scheduled time.

Tips to get your child to sleep and follow a regular naptime:

• Follow a fixed sleep schedule for your baby.

• Make sure the room is dark when the child is about to sleep, because too much light will prevent sleep. Also, the bedroom should have dim lights so that the child feels secure and can be put to sleep easily.

• Keep the room’s temperature optimum for the child to sleep well.

• The child’s room should be devoid of distractions like television, mobile phones or other gadgets.

• Parents should make optimum sleep a priority. Follow the mantra ‘Early to bed, early to rise’ from the early years.

With inputs from Dr Sundar C Ingaleshwar, Consultant Paediatrician, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Bengaluru.

It is very essential for a child to get the required amount of sleep. Read the article below to know how to encourage her to sleep well.