The effects of sleep deprivation in toddlers may be more pervasive than a bout of late-afternoon crankiness. According to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder, toddlers between 2-1/2 and 3 years old who miss only a single daily nap show more anxiety, less joy and interest, and poorer problem-solving ability. In fact, the researchers say, insufficient sleep alters toddlers’ facial expressions: they respond to exciting events less positively and frustrating events more negatively.
"Just like good nutrition, adequate sleep is a basic need that gives children the best chance of getting what is most important from the people and things they experience each day," said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, who led the study.
Further, LeBourgeois says, "Many young children today are not getting enough sleep, and for toddlers, daytime naps are one way of making sure their 'sleep tanks' are set to full each day. This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems."
You can read the full study on University of Colorado Boulder's website.