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Skipping The Nap | Sweet Dreams | giggle Blogs

skipping the nap

August 23, 2010

No Nap? Early to Bed!

My nearly four-year-old daughter is known to miss a nap here and there.  And on the nights following those napless days, I am often reminded of how important that nap is to her body chemistry.  She almost always has a night waking if we fail to put her to bed extra early to compensate for a lack of sleep. This scenario is by no means unique to her or our family, though it can be baffling.

The cause of this night waking is the hormone cortisol.  Our bodies naturally produce cortisol when we are under stress (bodies are stressed when they are overtired).  Cortisol’s role in sleep is to arouse the brain and body from slumber, so when there is more cortisol than normal, children typically have night wakings they wouldn’t otherwise have.  The other bad news – those children often wake up earlier in the morning to start the day.

Fortunately the solutions are easy and straightforward:

1. DON’T SKIP THE NAP!  At my daughter’s age this is a little tricky because even though we put her down, she doesn’t always take the nap.  This is normal for a pre-schooler who is slowly abandoning the nap.  However, if your child is under three years of age, it is almost a guarantee that they continue to need to nap.

2. PUT YOUR CHILD TO BED EARLIER.  Often this means a bedtime that is about an hour earlier than the usual bedtime.