“Do I really need a nap?”: The role of sleep science in informing sleep practices in early childhood education and care settings

Staton, Sally L., Smith, Simon S., & Thorpe, Karen J. (2015) “Do I really need a nap?”: The role of sleep science in informing sleep practices in early childhood education and care settings. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 1(1), pp. 32-44.

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A compelling body of studies identifies the importance of sleep for children’s learning, behavioral regulation, and health. These studies have primarily focused on nighttime sleep or on total sleep duration. The independent contribution of daytime sleep, or napping, in childhood is an emerging research focus. Daytime sleep is particularly pertinent to the context of early childhood education and care (ECEC) where, internationally, allocation of time for naps is commonplace through to the time of school entry. The biological value of napping varies with neurological maturity and with individual circumstance. Beyond the age of 3 years, when monophasic sleep patterns become typical, there is an increasing disjuncture between children’s normative sleep requirements and ECEC practice. At this time, research evidence consistently identifies an association between napping and decreased quality and duration of night sleep. We assess the implications of this evidence for educational practice and health policy. We identify the need to distinguish the functions of napping from those of rest, and assert the need for evidence-based guidelines on sleep–rest practices in ECEC settings to accommodate individual variation in sleep needs. Given both the evidence on the impact of children’s nighttime sleep on long-term trajectories of health and well-being and the high rates of child attendance in ECEC programs, we conclude that policy and practice regarding naptime have significant implications for child welfare and ongoing public health.

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ID Code: 80023
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Napping, Sleep, Early Childhood Education and Care, Policy, Practice
DOI: 10.1037/tps0000011
ISSN: 2332-2179
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 APA
Copyright Statement: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Deposited On: 14 Jan 2015 23:44
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2015 08:52

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