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Data Lacking to Support Childhood Naps Above Age 2

Enforcing naps after children naturally outgrow them leads to less sleep overall

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Children over 2 years old who nap during the day tend to go to bed later and get less sleep than those who give up napping, according to research findings published online Feb. 17 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Karen Thorpe, Ph.D., of the Queensland University of Technology School of Psychology and Counseling in Kelvin Grove, Australia, and colleagues reviewed 26 studies related to napping in children aged 5 and under. The authors looked for information about nighttime sleep patterns. The team also looked at behavior, stress, obesity, accidents, and thinking skills.

Napping during the day was only consistently linked to falling asleep later, getting less sleep overall, and having poorer-quality sleep, particularly among children older than 2. In addition, the researchers noted that there’s no set age when children should stop napping.

“The most significant finding from our study is that there is not support in the current body of research for enforcing naps in preschool children to improve their health and well-being,” Thorpe and coauthor Sally Staton, Ph.D., research associate also at Queensland, told HealthDay. “Napping in early childhood is often assumed to have universal benefit and this assumption hasn’t really been questioned by research before now.”

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