Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Late Bedtimes & Long Naps
March 25, 2024

Found in age groups

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A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

Blog Posts 15, based on the United States of America Department of the Army Field Manual: Holistic Healing and Fitness, describe what really matters for your child’s sleep. If sleep is an important enough topic for national defense than surely sleep should be considered a serious topic for parenting!

Blog 182Late Bedtimes & Long Naps

“In China, napping is a common practice and is promoted as a way to facilitate children’s broadening scope of awareness and building the individual’s resources. Indeed, the extended lunch periods routinely provided by many educational institutions and government agencies factor in napping time. These positive traditions or cultural expectations may facilitate the constructive effects of napping, whereas in Western countries napping in older children is negatively perceived, which may dampen the perceived benefits of napping and outcomes.” The 6th grade is the final year of elementary school and consequently, 6th graders typically experience the academic pressure of preparing for middle school entry exams. For example, 6th graders are required to stay after school until the late evening to review for these entry exams. As a result, 6th graders may need to nap more frequently during the day to be prepared for their extended academic day.”

Post-lunch napping is a common practice for Chinese school age children. About 1,000 children in 6th grade who were about 12.5 years-old, took naps per week as follows:

Naps Per Week

Never 0-2 3-4 5-7
12% 19% 29% 40%

When the bedtime is late, napping helps: “Overall, napping was significantly associated with higher happiness, grit, and self-control, reduced internalizing behavior problem, higher verbal IQs and better academic achievement. In addition, we found that optimal academic achievement and positive psychology was associated with longer naps (31-60 minutes and greater than 60 minutes) and most frequent (5-7 times per week).”

When the bedtime is early, not napping occurs: “The children who never took naps had an earlier bedtime than children in the other 3 groups. “More time in bed at night was associated with reduced internalizing behavior and better psychological well-being independent of napping behavior”.

I asked the lead author Professor Jianghong Liu: Is it your impression that older children who might have bedtimes that are too late are able to fully compensate for short duration night sleep by taking long naps frequently?

Her response: “You are right that long naps cannot fully compensate the effects of too late bedtime. In China, napping is culturally prescribed for many elementary and middle schools, where they provide nap time for students (often lunch break is 2 hours, which factors napping time into it). It has become a habit that students take a nap lying on their desks in the classroom. Additionally, because Chinese schools require the morning reading session before class starts at school, students often attend school quite early.

A late bedtime means that sleep is not in synchrony with the brain’s natural circadian sleep rhythm (Blog Post 112) and the duration of night sleep is shorter (Blog Post 109) both of which will impair the child during the day even if the naps are long (113).

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