For many parents, training their kids to sleep through the night comes fairly easily. But when it comes to putting them down for daytime naps, it can be a different story altogether. Today, I discuss what causes the natural resistance to daytime sleep, as well as how to overcome it.Rather read than watch? Click here.
Dana Obleman: Hi, I’m Dana. Welcome to this week’s video. Today I want to talk about naps. If you’re watching, you’re probably ready to pull your hair out about naps.
Today I want to talk about a few reasons why nap training seems to be so much harder. I get emails from people who say, “We’re one week in, nights are going great, she’s sleeping right through, but we’re still really struggling with naps.” The question is, “Why? Why can she figure this out so well at bed time, but she can’t seem to figure it out at nap time?” Here’s a few reasons why.
We all have a body clock. It’s called our circadian rhythm and that is a biological body clock of day time alertness and night time sleep. Everybody has a little sort of ebb and flow to their circadian rhythm through the day. Most people find that they’re a bit sleepy in the early morning or the early period of the day around 10 o’clock, and then again around 3 o’clock. You need a coffee break and you have to catch your second wind.
Naps are very important. Babies need naps, I’m not suggesting that they don’t. The better they nap during the day, the better they’re going to sleep at night. But they’re not as ready for nap as they are at bedtime, because their body clock isn’t quite 100 percent behind this. We’re moving towards a time where we’ll be awake all day and we’ll sleep all night.
The body clock is hurting a little bit, although once you get them into a nice schedule, you will find that their body clock responds quiet nicely to that with a little dip in the rhythm right around nap time, and again in the afternoon.
The light also plays a role in this. We are designed, again, to respond to light and dark. At night, when it’s getting dark, melatonin kicks in to our system, we start feeling sleepy, and that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Melatonin is not that present during the day, so the light will interfere with getting a baby to fall asleep well at nap time.
Here’s a tip, make the room dark. There’s no danger that she’s going to confuse her day and nights. That’s just not the way the body clock works. Make the room nice and dark, get a blackout blind, put tin foil over the windows. It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to be dark. That’ll really help.
I also find that children like to be with you. They like to play, they like to explore. Given the choice, your two‑year‑old would probably say, “No, thanks. I don’t need a nap today, I’m good.” They don’t really like it as much as they might at bed time.
They’re playing, engaging, exploring, learning, and it’s hard to just turn that off and go to sleep.
Tip #2 would be to sure you have a nap time routine in place. Nobody really likes to be whisked off to the bedroom, put into a crib, and commanded to sleep.
We usually need a little bit of queuing system that nap time is coming, “OK, we’re making a transition here.” Go into the baby’s bedroom, darken out the room, maybe read a story together, change the diaper, sing a song. It doesn’t have to be long. Let’s say three to five minutes is a good length just to kind of queue baby that is nap time. It should be in the same order every night, just like your bedtime routine, and be predictable to your baby to know that, “Oh, whenever I hear this song, it means it’s nap time” and then put baby down.
I do find that naps usually take a week or two longer to follow than night. Don’t let it discourage you. You know that she can do this, she’s proving it to you at night, you’re seeing some success during the day. You just need to hang in there.
I tell that to people a lot around naps. You just need to hang in there. They will become more regular, the length will definitely improve. You just have got to get to a point where that’s happening on a regular basis.
All right, thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
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