Why Short Cat-Naps Are Not Good
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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:
In 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).
Parenting author/educator Elizabeth Pantley is president of Better Beginnings, Inc., a family resource and education company. She's published several parenting books, such as The No-Cry Sleep Solution and Gentle Baby Care. Elizabeth frequently speaks to parents in schools, hospitals, and parent groups, and her presentations are received with enthusiasm and praise. She is frequently quoted as a parenting expert in magazines such as Parents, Parenting, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, McCall's, and Redbook and on more than 80 parent-directed Websites.
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Newborn Babies and Sleep
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