According to KidsHealth.org, typical preschool children need about 10-12 hours of sleep over the course of a 24-hour day. An article published in "Acta Paediatrica" concluded that children with a routine sleeping pattern, including naps, had better sleep quality than children not on a consistent schedule. Therefore, the need to schedule a nap during your children's daily routine is crucial for a variety of reasons.
Nap time decreases behavior incidents, according to an article published in the "Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics." The authors studied a group of over 500 preschoolers and the relationship between amount of sleep and behavior problems. The more children slept, including a nap and at night, the less likely they were to have a significant behavior disorder as determined by a licensed physician or psychologist. Naps increase opportunities for preschoolers to attain more sleep throughout any given day.
Children with Special Needs
Preschool children with special needs benefit from naps in additional ways to their typically-developing peers. A study published in the "American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" examined drowsiness of preschool children. Those with special needs such as autism and other developmental disabilities were sleepier than their peers without disabilities. Authors propose the findings may result from the disability affecting the preschooler's quality of sleep at night. Therefore, providing preschoolers with special needs nap time allows them to catch up from lack of quality rest during the night.
Children's memory is improved if they receive an adequate amount of sleep. Young children constantly acquire new information from their environment, and a study published in "Neuroscience and Behavior Reviews" links slow sleep wave (SWS) to memory acquisition. The longer a children's brain wave is in SWS, the better their memory. Naps allow preschoolers time in SWS that in turn improves their ability to remember newly acquired information.
Nap time provides children the chance to rest and have quiet time even if they do not sleep. If children do not require actual sleep, allow them to complete a quiet activity like browsing books or age-appropriate magazines in their bedroom. Play soft music in the background to encourage mental resting. Set a timer and request they stay quiet until the timer goes off. If your children are in school, select a time that coordinates with nap time at their preschool. This provides a consistent schedule and easier sleep transition for children on weekends and holidays.