An Interview with Mar Oscategui
As a follow up to your informative conversation with Rebecca on “Gentle Ways for to Help Your Whole Family Sleep Better,” we were wondering if you could provide your insight and perspective on some questions we had about naps – for people of all ages.
There is substantial information in parenting and health literature about infant sleep and when that transitions to daytime naps, when those naps transition from two-a-day to one-a-day and then phase out all together, but given your unique, health-and-family-based perspective, could share your thoughts on the following questions?
INFANTS AND BABIES
When do babies typically transition from sleeping on-and-off throughout the day, to napping during the day between longer periods of wakefulness?
Nap transitions do not happen abruptly. The typical transition is an ongoing development process from birth to age three however there are children that may need a nap until age five or six. The regulations of sleep pressure, also known as the homeostatic sleep drive, changes with time. Although babies typically begin showing day-night rhythms at around three months, it can take anywhere from three-six months. This process continues and between six to nine months, with the bouts of wakefulness continuing to increase. The shortest bouts of wakefulness tend to be earlier in the day with the longer bouts toward the end of the day. From nine to eighteen months, babies take an average of two naps per day lasting anywhere from one to two hours each and babies even as early as twelve months may be ready for just one nap.
OLDER CHILDREN AND TEENS
If older children are still taking a nap, yet are going to bed very late in the evening, is it healthier to keep them up so they will go to bed early or continue to let them nap until they no longer need to?
This depends on a number of factors and understanding in full detail the circumstances surrounding the individual child. In general, having a consistent bed time is very important. These are a few questions I would start with to begin assessing whether to keep him/her up or allow them to nap: How long is the older child napping? What time of day are they napping? Is it consistent daily? What time is their morning wake up time? What time is their bed time? Is this bedtime consistent or does it vary from day to day? What is their nutrition intake throughout the day? What is their light/dark cycles like? What time are they getting daylight exposure? Are there any nutritional deficiencies? What is their activity level like daily? From here I would determine what action steps are needed.
We often hear that teenagers are developmentally wired to stay awake later in the evenings into the early morning. Early school start times, often leave them sleep deprived. Would it be healthy to encourage a regular nap for teenagers or older children?
Yes, teenagers are biologically programmed to go to sleep late and wake up late and current school schedules are not synched to this. During teenage years, daytime sleepiness increases even if a teenager’s total amount of night sleep remains consistent. This is due to a shift in their circadian rhythm. On average teenagers need between 8 ½ and 9 ½ hours of sleep. Yes, a 20 minute nap after school can be very helpful in addition to working with their diet to ensure they are avoiding anti-sleep foods like caffeine, as many teenagers drink energy drinks containing caffeine, and adding pro-sleep foods.
I would also suggest the following:
• ensuring they set their daily clock with exposure to natural outdoor light upon waking;
• decreasing the amount of stimulating activities late at night that usually come from internet, tv and phone;
• transitioning from day to night by dimming lights, playing soft music or taking a bath;
• making sure they are getting enough movement throughout the day or after school; and
• using their bedroom only to sleep, if possible.
When it comes to adults sleep needs, do you have any information on what is the best practice for naps for adults - power naps, longer full-sleep cycle naps – or does this just vary from person-to-person?
For the best specific nap practice I would recommend, I would need to do a full health/lifestyle evaluation/assessment on the client I am working with. However, yes, in general naps are best when between 10 and 20 minutes in length and before 4 pm. Too long of a nap may make you feel groggy and more sleepy upon waking because long naps lead to a deep slow-wave sleep. There are also many restorative practices like yoga nidra for example that may be more suitable for a client than a nap. It depends on many factors relating to the client’s lifestyle, health and circumstances.
Do you have any nap questions that you would like to see answered on The Consciously Parenting Academy blog? If so, please comment below. We'd love to hear from you!
Mar Oscategui is a holistic serial entrepreneur, lifestyle and business coach. For Mar business is personal and as a result her work holistically integrates scientific research and intuitive knowledge using the modalities of yoga therapy, nutrition, fitness, reiki, dance, energy work, stress management, green living, meditation, sleep and rest. Her qualifications include over twenty three certifications in the health, fitness, yoga and maternity fields covering a range of holistic topics: exercise, stress management, nutrition, sleep, eco-consulting, somatic yoga therapy, meditation, pilates, pregnancy, birth, wellness coaching, and business coaching. To learn more about Mar or schedule a consultation, visit her website MaryOscategui.com.
Red Couch Project, Dave Austria, CC by-nc-nd/2.0
Sleepyhead, Justin van Zyl, CC by-nc/2.0