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5 Common Causes of Short Naps

You don't need me to tell you that short naps can be a real pain in the you-know-what. But aside from being an inconvenience, they can be problematic for quite a few reasons. So what causes them and what can you do about it? Read on to find out...

  • Your child isn't getting the restorative daytime sleep they need and are likely feeling pretty grumpy and out of sorts as a result.

  • It's literally impossible to maintain a set daily schedule when naps are so short and inconsistent.

  • You feel on the back foot constantly and struggle to plan or schedule things as you never quite know how your day will pan out.

  • You can't get a damn thing done during nap time because it feels like no sooner have they fallen asleep...the PING! They're awake again!

  • Nights/ early mornings are also a struggle thanks to all that pesky over tiredness from the lack of quality daytime sleep.

The good news, is that it's usually pretty easy to pinpoint the reason behind 'crap naps' once you know what you're looking for (sorry I couldn't resist!). The biggest issue I find is that many parents simply don't understand the root cause of their sleep woes, which makes it very difficult to take the appropriate action and so the cycle of poor sleep continues.

Below are the 5 most common causes of short naps which I hope will give you food for thought and help you develop a plan to resolve those itty bitty naps once and for all.

1. Sleep Environment Is Not Well-Optimised

Think of optimising your child's sleep environment as setting the stage for great sleep. Without the stage meticulously set, it's very difficult to achieve that consistency we strive for when it comes to our little one's sleep. Things like room temperature, level of darkness, use of white noise and sleeping attire are all key components in what make up the perfect sleep environment.

2. Routines Are Inconsistent (Or Non-Existent!)

You've probably heard it before- babies and children thrive on routine. Implementing consistent daily routines and structure around things like feeding, sleeping and awake time is critical to maintaining consistency and predictability around sleep itself. So if you're currently 'going with the flow' and sleep just isn't happening, it's probably time to map out some nice, simple daily routines that you can follow in order to bring greater order and consistency to your days.

3. Schedule Is Off

Following an age-appropriate daily schedule for your child is one of THE most important things when it comes to achieving and maintaining great sleep. However remember that sleep needs evolve quickly, so it's important to keep a close eye on things as your child grows and develops and ensure you adjust things as and when required. It's also important to strike the right balance between each nap and between naps and night time sleep, so always ensure you are implementing a schedule that is suitable for your child's age.

4. Dependency on a Sleep Onset Association

Babies and toddlers who are dependent on someone, or something to fall asleep are very likely to also struggle with short naps. Doing things like rocking, feeding, giving a soother, pushing in the pram, driving in the car, holding, patting, stroking and so on ultimately does the job of putting your child to sleep. Hence, when they wake after a 40 minute sleep cycle, naturally enough they are going to be looking around for whatever it was that they had to fall asleep initially. They simply don't have the skills to be able to fall asleep independently, and are therefore unable to connect their own sleep cycles and sleep for longer stretches. Teaching your little one how to fall asleep independently is literally the greatest gift you can give a child who is frustrated and struggling to sleep.

5. Reinforcing The Behaviour

If your child wakes like clockwork after 40 minutes and you are going straight in and lifting them out, chances are you are unintentionally reinforcing the short nap. It's so important to give your child a fair and reasonable chance to fall back asleep again even when they wake prematurely from a nap. So not rushing in as soon as you hear a peep is KEY! Of course, this advice only applies to children who are capable of putting themselves to sleep upfront at the beginning of a sleep cycle, so if your child doesn't yet possess this skill, then refer back to point #4 :)



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