Naps Essential for Toddler Emotional Development
January 6, 2012
by Sasha Emmons
© Perkmeup Imagery for Veer
It’s not just your mood that benefits from your active toddler taking his daily afternoon snooze. A new study found that toddlers who don’t nap exhibit more anxiety, less joy, and decreased ability to solve problems. “This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems,” says study leader Monique LeBourgeois, Ph.D. from University of Colorado Boulder, on psychcentral.com.
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The study gauged the emotional expressions of nap-deprived but otherwise healthy toddlers one hour after their usual nap time, and tested them again on another day after they’d napped. Facial expressions were assigned emotions—anxiety, joy, confusion, etc—on a second-by-second basis. Researchers found a 34 percent decrease in positive emotional responses among napless toddlers as they worked on a puzzle as compared to the same children completing similar puzzles after their usual nap. The study also showed a 31 percent increase in negative emotional responses of nap-deprived toddlers when they attempted to complete unsolvable puzzles when compared with puzzle-solving attempts after they had napped.
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At what age did your child drop his or her nap?