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How to Lengthen Short Naps

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One of the most common questions from parents revolves around those short naps, which can truly feel like a challenge. These are typically naps under 60 minutes, often around 30-45 minutes, and they can be a real puzzle. We all understand the importance of naptime for our little ones’ happiness and contentment when they’re awake. However, what should you do when your child struggles to sleep for more than 30-45 minutes at a stretch?

The reason could be behind one of these:

Over Tiredness:

If your baby goes down for their nap while being overtired (meaning they’ve been awake for too long before the nap), they’ll find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is because they’ve built up a lot of adrenaline trying to stay awake during their awake time, leaving them feeling ‘wired’ when they should be sleepy. Consequently, they might struggle to transition into the next sleep cycle as they remain restless. Often, this leads to them suddenly waking up after just one sleep cycle and feeling quite upset about it. So, if your baby frequently wakes up after 30-45 minutes and seems upset, it’s likely due to overtiredness. Adjusting their awake windows can help with this.

Under Tiredness:

On the other hand, if your little one takes a long time to fall asleep, but doesn’t appear overly upset during the process and wakes up after 30-45 minutes feeling happy and content, this suggests they didn’t accumulate enough sleep pressure before their nap to sustain a longer slumber. In simpler terms, they weren’t tired enough to need a lengthier nap! Experiment with extending their awake windows to see if that encourages them to nap for a longer duration.

Environment:

The sleep environment plays a crucial role. Make sure the room where your child naps is as dark as possible, minimising any visual stimulation as they approach the end of their first sleep cycle. Consider using a Gro-blind to keep the room dark during the day. If you’re on the go, a Snoozeshade for your buggy can help block out daytime distractions. Noise can also be a factor. If your home experiences varying noise levels during the day (from noisy siblings, noisy neighbours, busy roads, construction work, barking dogs, etc.), consider using white noise. It can create a consistent and soothing environment for your little one to nap in, as long as it plays continuously throughout their naptime.

Independent Sleep Skills:

One of the more complex reasons for short naps is when your little one relies on external factors to fall asleep. For instance, if they need to be fed or rocked to sleep for naps, they may expect the same conditions to be in place when they wake up after their initial sleep cycle. If this approach is working well for your family, that’s fantastic – no need to change a winning formula! However, if you find it unsustainable and want more independence for your child’s sleep, it might be time to work on developing their independent sleep skills so they don’t depend on you for every nap.

Remember, if you’re facing any sleep-related challenges with your little one, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free 15-minute call. We’re here to help you and your child get the rest you both need!

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