Preschoolers Healthy Sleep Habits Amount and Hours


Preschoolers Healthy Sleep Habits Amount and Hours

In  view  of  the  general  recognition of the  importance  of sleep, especially during the early years  of  life when the growth rate is at a maximum and the  physical demands  of the  organism are  correspondingly great,  it  is  surprising to find so  little experimental evidence available  as  to the  actual amount  of  sleep needed by very young children.

Standards  that  have been published by different authorities  on child  guidance  vary widely, and appear to  have based  their recommendations  as  to  the  amount of sleep needed by children of  various  ages  on a study of  a very small number  of children.

Blanton and  Seham  believe  15 hours  to be a minimum requirement for  children who are two years  of age,  and   14  hours  for  children who are  three years  of age.

Langdon  quotes  14  to 16  hours as  the requirement  for two year  old children, and  11 to 14  hours  for three  and four-year  olds.

Arlitt  gives  13  to 15  hours  as  the  necessary  amount  of  sleep for two  year  old  children and 12  to  I4 hours  for  three  and  four  year  olds.


Preschoolers Healthy Sleep Habits Amount and Hours Schedule

Preschoolers Healthy Sleep Habits Amount and Hours Schedule

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In  recent  years  studies  made by  research groups  have  shown uniformity  in their  results,  and  the  standards  quoted from the  literature  are more  than  children really sleep.

Interesting  and  quite  reliable  data  is  furnished on  the  hours of  sleep by  Faegre  and Anderson’s  analysis  of  home  reports  made by  the  Institute  of  Child Welfare  at the  University of Minnesota,  in cooperation with over  a  thousand mothers  in all  sections  of  the  state.

The  mothers  four times  during  the year,  filled out  a report  giving details  of the  child’s  sleep  for  a  period  of  one week.  The  average  amount  of  total  sleep  taken by  two year  old  children was  found to be 12  hours 43 minutes  out  of the 24  hours.

The  average  amount  of  total sleep  taken  by  three  year  olds  was  12  hours, 7  minutes,  and  the  amount taken by  four  year  olds 11  hours 43 minutes.

This  shows  that  the mean  amount  of  total  sleep  decreases  with advancing age,  this  decrease  tending  to be  the  result  of  the  amount  of  time  spent  in napping  and  sleeping  during  the  day.

These  figures  are  within a few  minutes  of  the  amount  found by Gardner in  her  analysis  of home  reports  made  by  a  large  number  of  Merrill-Palmer  parents  and by  Blatz  and  Bott  in  their  study.The mean  amount  of  night  sleep shows  but  little  change  within  the  ages  considered.

It  should be remembered always  there  is  considerable  variation  in  individual children and  that  even within  the  same  family  one  child may consistently sleep more  or  less  than another.  Children at all  ages  between  one  and
seven years  sleep  very  close  to  eleven  hours  per  night,  it was  found There  is  general agreement among authorities in the field of child  care that the mid-day nap of the young child is very important.

“There  seems  to be no reason for discontinuing the afternoon nap and many good reasons  for  keeping it a part of the regular routine.”

“One  cannot overemphasize the importance  of this habit and the obligation of  parents  to see that  it  is  carried out. The afternoon nap  is  a very necessary part  of the child’s  schedule. This  break in the day’s  activities  is  of great  importance to the well-being of all children,  although not all require  it  to the  same extent.”

The  child  is busy and active,  almost every minute  of his waking time,  so that fatigue  and strain will surely result unless  periods  of activity alternate with periods  of rest and relaxation.

Dr.  Thom states:  “The  nap should be considered an important part  of the  child’s  regimen up to 5 years  of  age and  longer  if  it  can be  continued without  too much friction,  as  fatigue  is  one  of  the most  important  elements  in causing neurotic  traits  in children.The tired child  is  very apt  to be  irritable,  fault finding,  selfish, finicky about  his  food,  and generally discontented.”



The nap should be scheduled soon after  the midday  meal.

Three things  need to be  taken into  consideration.

The  nap should not  prevent the  child from getting his  out-of-door play during the sunny part of  the  day,  especially in winter;  sleep in the  late afternoon is very apt  to interfere with night  sleep in a child of  over three years;  and it  is  not advisable to let a child play immediately after a  large  dinner,  at which time  he is apt to feel relaxed and most  ready for  his nap.

Preschoolers Healthy Sleep Habits Amount and Hours Schedule 2

Preschoolers Healthy Sleep Habits Amount and Hours Schedule 2

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“Rest  aids  digestion whereas  under play conditions emotion is  likely to be aroused which will  interfere with the  digestive function.”

Having  had his  dinner at midday, the  child should go to bed very soon afterwards.   Whatever time is  chosen,  the  child should be put to bed with unfailing regularity.

How  long the nap should be depends  on the needs  of the  individual child. Faegre  and Anderson state  that  it was  found  in the  extensive study of the  sleep of young children carried on at the University of Minnesota that there is a gradual decrease  in the amount  of time  spent  in napping as  the child grows  older. The Children’s Bureau  says,

“It  is  not wise  to  let a  child over three  years  old sleep more  than two hours  in the daytime unless  he is  underweight  and  unless  he sleeps 11  to 12  hours at night besides.”

That  the afternoon sleep  is  largely under  the  control  of the parent,whose  responsibility it  is  to control the conditions  of
sleep,  is  shown clearly when  certain children are first brought to a nursery school. Often the  parent  assures  the  teacher,  in  the  presence  of the  child usually,  that  her child never  sleeps  in the afternoon any more. Such children almost  always  sleep after a  short  period at  the school.   Interruptions  in the  home  routine which suggest  to  the  child  that  it  is  a matter of choice whether he  rests  or not are undesirable and tend to make for difficulty.

In the  home a calm firm attitude  on the  part  of the  parent is very helpful  in getting the  child to take a nap every day.      It  is  an attitude  that can be acquired to some  extent by every parent,  I believe.  Certainly the  regularity of nap  time after  the midday meal  is  possible  for  every child.

Dr.  Blanton   says,  “One  of the most  common causes  of failure  of the  nap is  irregularity.”   When this  is  a  routine measure  the  child accepts  his  rest as  a matter  of fact.     

Faegre  and Anderson believe,  “The  child should be completely undressed for  his nap.  If  this  babyhood  custom is  not dropped,  a  time  of rebellion  is  less  likely to arise.”   

Naturally the associations with being undressed are  conducive  to sleep.  A darkened room and absence  of any toys  in view may also  help the child  to  get needed day sleep. Even if  the  child does  not  sleep, he  gets  the benefit  of quiet and rest from his  activities,  although it  has been  shown that  the young  child should sleep during the nap time.

Preschoolers Healthy Sleep Habits Amount and Hours  Article Source : This article courtesy should goes to ” Sleep problems of the preschool child ” book submitted by Adelaide Romine Holcombe.


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