Children who have an afternoon nap over the age of
two don't get a good quality sleep at night according to new
research reported by the Daily Mail, but the NHS disagrees.
The research conducted at Queensland
University of Technology looked into the impact napping has on a
child's night-time sleep quality - as well as behaviour, cognition
and physical health.
The researchers reviewed the
available published evidence for napping in children aged up to
five years old by pooling data from 26 studies and analysing the
findings, which were published online in the journal Archives of
Disease in Childhood.
The research found consistent, but
not particularly high quality evidence, indicating that napping
beyond the age of two increases the amount of time it takes for a
child to fall asleep and shortens the overall amount of night-time
sleep. However, the impact of napping on behaviour and development
is less clear-cut.
The NHS has reacted by saying that
many of the studies were of a poor quality due to lack of reliable
evidence. The total length and quality of sleep over a 24 hour
period is linked to child health and development, and parents and
carers have been encouraged to let toddlers take a daytime nap as a
way of promoting good health.
Out of the 26 studies, just one
looked at the effect of napping on sleep in children under the age
of three. It found that napping was associated with a shorter
night's sleep in children over the age of two. but this study did
not assess the quality of sleep. The quality of sleep was assessed
in three studies of children over the age of three, which was found
to be reduced in those that napped.
Across the other studies, there were
no clear findings on the effects of napping in terms of behaviour,
cognitive function or physical health, regardless of age. Therefore
an NHS spokesperson has said, "Due to the lack of high-quality
evidence, we would certainly not recommend changing your child's
sleeping patterns if it seems to suit them."