SLEEPING & NAPPING
For information about newborns and sleep, please see the Newborns section.
Why Short Cat-Naps Are Not Good Enough
By: Elizabeth Pantley, Author of The No-Cry Nap Solution
If your child’s naps are shorter than an hour and a half in length, you may have wondered if these brief naps provide enough rest for your little one. You might suspect that these catnaps aren’t meeting your child’s sleep needs – and you would be right. The science of sleep explains why a short nap takes the edge off, but doesn’t offer the same physical and mental nourishment that a longer nap provides.It takes between 90 and 120 minutes for your child to move through one entire sleep cycle, resulting in a Perfect Nap. It has been discovered that each stage of sleep brings a different benefit to the sleeper. Imagine, if you will, magic gifts that are awarded at each new stage of sleep:Stage 1 - Very light sleepLasts 5 to 15 minutesThe Gifts:Prepares body for sleepReduces feelings of sleepiness Stage 2 - Light to moderate sleepLasts up 15 minutesThe gifts:Increases alertnessImproves motor skillsStabilizes moodSlightly reduces homeostatic sleep pressure (The biological process that creates fatigue and irritability.)Stage 3 - Deep sleepLasts up to 15 minutesThe gifts: Strengthens memoryRelease of growth hormoneRepair of bones, tissues and musclesFortification of immune systemRegulates appetiteReleases bottled up stressRestores energyReduces homeostatic sleep pressure
Stage 4 – Deepest sleepLasts up to 15 minutes
The gifts:Same benefits as Stage 3, but enhancedNext Stage – DreamingLasts up to 9 to 30 minutesThe gifts:Transfers short-term memory into long-term memoryOrganizes thoughtsSecures new learningEnhances brain connectionsSharpens visual and perceptual skillsProcesses emotionsRelieves stressInspires creativityBoosts energyReduces homeostatic sleep pressure Longer napsFor as long as your child sleepsThe gifts:Repeat all of the above stages in cyclesIn order for your child to receive all of these wonderful gifts he must sleep long enough to pass at least once through each stage of sleep. Longer naps will encompass additional sleep cycles and provide a continuous presentation of gifts.
Newborn babies have unique cycles that slowly mature over time. A newborn sleep cycle is about 40 to 60 minutes long, and an infant enters dream sleep quickly, skipping several sleep stages. Infants need several sleep cycles to receive their full allotment of gifts. If your infant is sleeping only 40-60 minutes at naptime it is an indication that your baby is waking between cycles instead of returning to sleep on his own. We’ll cover a plethora of ideas to help your baby learn to go back to sleep without your intervention. Now you can clearly see why a short nap doesn’t provide your baby or young child the best benefits of napping. You can also see why a mini-nap can fool you into thinking it is enough – since the very first five to fifteen minutes reduce feelings of sleepiness and bring that whoosh of second-wind energy that dissipates quickly, resulting is fussiness, crying, crankiness, tantrums and whining.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
This is a copyrighted excerpt from The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, December 2008).