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Napping Important to Mental Health of 4 and 5-Year Olds

Posted Jun 09 2009 11:09pm

Interesting study here about the potential relationship between the sleeping patterns of four and five-years olds and hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety.  What the article doesn’t address is the “Chicken/Egg” conundrum; are some kids having trouble because they aren’t napping, or are they having trouble napping because they are experiencing depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity?  The researchers also acknowledge that sleep patterns can be very individualized in terms of needs, so the idea that a child is automatically at risk due to a lack of napping is not accurate.  Here is one quick excerpt from the article:

Results indicate that children between the ages of 4 and 5 who did not take daytime naps were reported by their parents to exhibit higher levels of hyperactivity, anxiety and depression than children who continued to nap at this age. 

On the flip side, I’ve noted repeatedly my belief that sleep is an important factor in overall well-being; it stands to reason that adequate sleep is at least as important for children.  In addition, it seems like many parents are allowing children to stay up later into the evening than when I was a lad, which may place additional importance on napping as a way for children to get enough sleep.  Clearly, more research would need to be done examining different sleeping patterns in order to come to more definitive conclusions (i.e. if a five-year old gets 12 hours of sleep at night, is that the equivalent of a child who sleep 10 hours at night, and also takes a nap?).  Still and all, any article that highlights the necessity of getting adequate shut-eye is fine by me. 

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