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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Prof Helen L. Ball

Jones, C. & Ball, H.L. (2013). Napping in English preschool children and the association with parents’ attitudes. Sleep Medicine 14(4): 352–358.

Author(s) from Durham


Background Age-independent variability in childrens’ napping duration may be influenced by parental preference and attitudes and childrens’ availability or lack of opportunity to nap. Our study examined English preschool childrens’ napping duration, frequency and location, and the association of daily nap duration with parents’ attitudes towards napping. Methods Parents of three-year-old children in deprived and nondeprived areas of a town in North-East England were interviewed regarding their attitudes towards child napping and completed four-day and five night sleep diaries documenting their childrens’ daytime and nighttime sleep. Results Of 84 children, half had at least one nap during the four-day study period (median [interquartile range] daily nap duration across all children was 1 [21] min; for nappers only was 21 [34] min). Naps tended to be infrequent and short and few (6%) occurred in a bedroom. Children whose parents allowed or encouraged napping had significantly longer daily nap duration (n=25, median [interquartile range] daily nap duration 21 [34] min) compared to those whose parents tried to prevent them from napping (n=29, 1 [21] min), and those whose parents reported that children did not want to nap (n=30, 0 [0] min) (U=23.21; p<.001). Conclusion Positive parental attitude towards napping was associated with longer child nap duration. Napping appeared to be mainly sporadic and opportunistic and was negatively perceived and prevented by one-third of parents. The consequences of premature nap cessation are not known; given the importance of sufficient sleep in childhood, we should possibly consider enabling young children to nap more freely.