More sleep during day = better sleep at night?

Jennifer - posted on 01/06/2011 ( 11 moms have responded )




I've been hearing a lot lately about babies who nap well during the day sleep better at night. Is there any truth to this? My daughter who will be 1 on the 14 has never napped well, and doesn't sleep for more than 2 hrs at night. I've read babies should nap every 2-3 hrs. Does anyone have any tricks to help her sleep? I feel like I have tried everything! Are some babies just poor sleepers? More needy than others? My older daughter didn't have any sleep issues.


Renae - posted on 01/07/2011




Its not so much that napping during the day makes them sleep better at night - it is that avoiding becoming overstimulated during the day, by not staying awake for too long and having enough sleep to recharge the brain, can avoid some night waking issues. When a baby's brain is overstimulated, it has trouble moving from light sleep to deep sleep (sometimes waking) and often wakes after 2 sleep cycles. A brain that is not too overstimulated is able to go into a deeper sleep and get through more sleep cycles without waking.

So yes, getting the right amount of sleep during the day does usually help with night waking - and cutting naps during the day usually makes night waking worse.

A one year old normally needs 2 naps per day of 1.5 to 2.5 hours each, one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon. At 1 they can stay awake for around 4 hours at a time. What you have read about 2-3 hours applies to a baby aged 6-10 months.

Between 14 and 16 months they begin the transition to 1 nap per day. The tranisition usually lasts 2 months when some days they need 1 nap and some days they need 2 and you just have to play it by ear. By 18 months most babies are having one nap per day at around 11.30am, by 24 months its at 12.30 to 1pm, for 1.5-3 hours. 2-3 year old usually nap at 1pm for 1-2 hours, most kids stop napping by the time they are 3.

Research shows that how babies sleep has much more to do with their temperament and very little to do with your parenting style. Hence the common problem where one child has issues and the other does not.

97% of the time, babies who are poor sleepers will sleep through the night when they learn to go to sleep on their own without a parent in the room. Generally, barring any health issues, this would be the problem with a 1 year old waking every 2 hours. I'm going to assume this is your problem and include a basic withdrawal sleep program below, any questions or you think you have a different problem you are welcome to contact me.

1. Get her used to being put in her cot relaxed but awake and pat or jiggle her until she is fast asleep. This will take 1-3 weeks.
2. When she is used to going to sleep this way, stop patting a little bit sooner, just after she goes to sleep but is not fast asleep.
3. After a few more days, stop patting just after she closes her eyes but is not yet asleep.
4. Then stop just as her eyes are closing.
5. Then when her eyes look really heavy.
6. At this point time how long you are patting for (probably 15 minutes) and reduce the time by 1 minute every couple of days until you just put her down and walk away and she goes to sleep without crying.
7. If you stop and try to leave the room and she cries (which will happen especially in the first weeks), pick her up, calm her down, put her back in the cot and start again. Expect to start again up to 5 times.
8. Wait until she completely masters each step (minimum 3-5 days) before moving on to the next step. The whole process will take 4-12 weeks. Be consistent every time she goes to sleep, day and night.

9. If you reach a point where things were going well and suddenly go backwards, this could be a regression, a regression will pass in no more than a week, just stick with the step you are up to. If it does not pass and therefore is not a regression, you have moved too fast, go back to the last step that was working and try again.

10. Keep the plan moving through the steps, if you stagnate, or decide "this is good enough we will stop here", things will go right back to how they were within 4 weeks.

Stifler's - posted on 01/06/2011




YES. For my kid anyway. If he doesn't nap during the day he is cranky and over tired and wakes up all through the night. When I put him down for a sleep right at the right time he sleeps well then sleeps well at night.

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Heather - posted on 07/13/2012




My son is 5 weeks old and still wakes up every 2-3 hours at night but he sleeps better during the day now. He used to only take 20-30 minute naps and stay away for 3 hours or more, crying and over-tired. I realized if I watched him nap and rocked him in a newborn bouncer when he whimpered before he got to crying awake, he would go back to sleep. I'd do this about 2-3 times an then finally he'd sleep for a good hour or two in deep sleep. I made sure he got at least two hours of sleep at a time by babysitting his naps. I also prep him for a nap when he starts to fuss early, or even try to catch it before he fusses. So far, no change at night, but during the day he is much happier and better rested. No grumpy baby anymore during the day.

Babies wake up from deep sleep every hour or so and some can resettle and go back to sleep and others can't. The ones that can't are our babies and need our help to go back to sleep before they realize they're waking up. That's why when he whimpers during the day naps I help him go back to sleep. My hope is that eventually he'll apply this to his nighttime schedule as it becomes more natural at night

Iysha - posted on 01/06/2011




It is definitley true with my daughter....she needs her 3 hours of sleep in the day to get her 10 hours of sleep at night. I have also read that in the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

Marijke - posted on 01/06/2011




I'm with Karen on this one. My LG is just over 17 months and doesn't last more than 3 hours, she has two naps during the day. When she's back at daycare she only has one nap but mostly I try to push for a second late afternoon because if she's too tired when she goes down at night she wakes up a lot and becomes rather aggressive. She'll sleep for an hour and then wake up for an hour long aggressive tantrum (as in banging her head against the cot, hitting and scratching herself and me)

My saving grace was the blogs on this website - I read through all the archives when my LG was 3 or 4 months old and it has helped us to get loads of sleep.


Amanda - posted on 01/06/2011




None of my children napped after the age of 1, and all have slept through the night by the age of 1. So no I dont believe there is any truth in that theory. Some children after age of one still need naps, no doubt, but that shouldnt effect a childs night time sleep unless they are sleeping the day away.

Karen - posted on 01/06/2011




it may be something you have to play around with in her schedule....not all 1 year olds are ready to only have one nap a day as amy has stated...some need more sleep then others. like i said earlier, my son needs to have a min. of 4 hrs in naps a day or he won't sleep at night...i look after a 14month old who sleeps 5 hrs for naps in a day and i also have a 2 yr old who i look after and she just two weeks ago cut back to one nap a day (and it's a 3hr one). 3 hrs in my opinion is not unrealistic in between naps for many children this age. i know my son goes 3 hrs from getting up in the am to his first nap, i have to push for 4 hrs between the next one and then he's up for 3 hrs and it's bedtime for the night....

Amy - posted on 01/06/2011




Um....well, if they take a decent nap during the day they won't be overly tired and cranky. You know..where you're exhausted but can't sleep because your mind won't stop. But, if they nap TOO long, they won't sleep well at night. I never let them sleep longer than 2/3 hours during the day past a year old. Every 2-3 hours??????? at a year old? No. At a year old my son was sleeping 12-14 hours at night with one nap mid day that lasted 1 1/2 hours -3 hrs long. WHEN does your daughter nap/sleep? I mean, she can't just get 2 hours at night and not sleep any other time. What is her current schedule?

Carissa - posted on 01/06/2011




send me an email i have an online book you can read it helped me a lot in that situation!!!

Karen - posted on 01/06/2011




i have found it to be absolutely true! if we have a busy day running errands and my son doesn't get his naps like normal, he wakes three or four times a night. as long as he gets his 2 2hr long naps he will sleep for 12 hrs straight at night (and has been like this since he was only 8 weeks old). my son is almost 16 months and we've just recently gone from three naps to two in a day. i find if i keep my son up any more then 3-4 hrs at a time he has a hard time falling asleep because he's become over tired. maybe just try putting her in her bed every 3 hrs or so and see how it goes (don't get her out if she doesn't fall asleep right away, i know it sometimes takes my son a bit of chatting before he falls asleep). also, is her room kept fairly dark? that may help if it's not already.....i always do nap right after snack or a meal because i find if he goes to bed without eating he doesn't sleep long...anyways, i'm not sure if any of these suggestions will help (or if you've already tried them) but i hope you do find something. good luck!

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