Study finds daytime naps good for older kids, not just toddlers

ByDenise Dador KGO logo
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Study finds daytime naps good for teens, not just toddlers
UC Irvine researchers found that kids ages 10-12 were happier and had more self-control if they took midday naps.

Back to school means getting kids back to their regular sleep patterns.

For many the adjustment can be difficult.

Now, a new study finds taking a little daytime nap might be just what the doctor ordered.

Sleep was Destiny Hernandez's best friend during the summer, but she knows when school starts she won't be able to get as many hours of sleep.

"I wake up more sleepy, unfocused," Hernandez said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said kids 6 to 12 years old need 9 to 12 hours of sleep. And even those a little older still need 10 hours, but many children and adolescents are falling short.

"Children who don't get enough sleep, the next day they're wired, they're tired, they're anxious," said Pediatrician Dr. Martha Rivera of Optimal Healthcare. "They don't focus in school."

Taking a nap is an essential part of a young toddler's day. But most kids give up napping by the age of five.

University of California Irvine researchers studied kids age 10 to 12 years old.

They found those who had a midday nap were happier and had more self-control, fewer behavior problems and a higher IQ.

Rivera agrees it could be beneficial.

Naps around 20 to 30 minutes when you get home if you didn't get a good night's sleep could be helpful, she suggests. But not much longer than that so you can fall asleep again by 9 p.m.

Another tip: limit your screen time.

Twelve-year-old Deserie Galeano knows to stop using electronics two hours before bedtime.

"I'm going to start going to sleep earlier and putting my phone away because I'm usually always on my phone," she said.

Naps are a daily part of life in countries like China, Mexico, Greece and the Philippines. Naps there can last 20 minutes to an hour and maybe even more.

"Do what the farmers do," Rivera said. "Go to sleep when the sun goes down and wake when the sun rises. And do your homework in the morning. You'll be fresher and you'll get twice as much done."