Fighting with your brother? Take a nap. Oh, you want to throw your shoe at me? Take a nap.
Naps are essential to navigating #momlife; it’s our daily bit of sanity.
I make all three of my tiny humans take naps after school. My oldest is in first grade.
But naps aren’t just good for curing crankiness, they slow down aging according to a new study from Princeton University.
What is aging?
Napping affects a person’s DNA at the cellular level, the study published in The Journal of Pediatrics said.
The study revealed lack of sleep can lead to signs of early aging in cells.
A little tags at the end of every chromosome called a telomere shrinks every time a cell divides. It essentially works like a candle wick.
When it runs out, the cell dies. Cells then cannot divide anymore, which slows down how the body repairs and replenishes itself.
This is what scientists refer to as “aging.”
What’s the recommendation for sleep?
Sarah James and Daniel Notterham, the lead researchers in the Princeton study, discovered lack of sleep in children causes the same aging effect on cells.
They studied nearly 1,600 nine-year-olds. For every hour of sleep loss, telomeres are 1.5 percent shorter than average according to the study.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended these sleep guidelines for children, including naps.
- Infants 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours daily
- Toddlers 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours daily
- Preschoolers 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours daily
- School children 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours daily
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours daily
They also said adequate sleep improves behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.
What do parents need to know?
In 2011, child development experts Jennifer Vriend and Penny Corkum published a study discussing how to correct behavioral insomnia in children.
The study, published in the National Institutes of Health, broke down barriers to children’s behavioral sleep patterns.
- Infants: Parental education is key. Mothers who spoke with pediatric nurses and doctors about healthy sleep habits slept better, longer and woke less often.
- Preschoolers: Healthier sleep patterns are achieved when parents stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors during bedtime routines.
- Schoolchildren: This group needs good sleep routines enforced. That means all lights out, cooler temperatures and void of any glowing screens.
- Tweens and teens: Older kids should be given some opportunities to judge their sleepiness on their own. However, parents should intervene when it becomes a problem with firm bedtimes.
Bottom line: According to the study, if a child is lashing out for no apparent reason, it is likely due to lack of sleep.
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