Our 4 1/2 year old was a regular napper (and a great sleeper in general) until recently. Although she'll be undeniably tired, for whatever reason, she sometimes keeps herself awake during naps (night time is still OK). Her behavior on days when she doesn't nap is completely out of control. We wouldn
I'm likely to disappoint you with my reply to your concerns. Your daughter is in the midst of a difficult transitional developmental stage. She's on the way to doing without daytime sleeping, but she's not quite there yet. There really is nothing you can do that will dramatically alter this course. There are times in a child's development when it's best to bite the bullet and know that things will improve. Of course your daughter will be more disorganized, less resilient and more fragile when she is tired (just as she would be when she is either ill or hungry). This is a normal thing. The single best thing you can do, if you're able, when she is tired is to diminish the demands on her. By this I mean that, if possible (and it is a less-than-perfect world), let her be around the house, engaging in whatever relaxing (or other) play or pastime she prefers (even if it is watching television, viewing videos, etc). It's not a good time to telling her to do this or do that - you're only going to engender resistance. The same goes for trying to take her places when she's in this state. She'll be too depleted. Even though she is tired to some extent, she's too engaged with the world around her and her body has its own mechanism to stay alert. Often when children are in this state you witness a sort of motor overactivity and increase in energy. It seems incongruous, but think of it as the brain's way to stay alert. After a while, all her sleep will occur during the overnight hours (and she should be getting approximately eleven hours of sleep). By all means do not attempt to limit her overnight sleep in an effort to have her nap during the day. You do not want to disrupt the sleep/wake cycle as it applies to overnight sleep. She sounds very normal, and she is right at the age when many children start to do away with naps.
I'd also suggest that it would be prudent to have your child evaluated for a sleep disorder. As with adults, obstructive sleep apnea is the leading cause of sleep disturbance; the effects of sleep deprivation can be an overwhelming obstacle when present. Make sure your child has good sleep hygiene and have a sleep disorder ruled out. If there is one, they're often easily treatable and/or managed and treatment makes a HUGE difference for the child. My son is a different person with treatment....it was an outstanding effect.
I forgot to say, the reason i suggest this is because your description is very much the same as my son at 4 to 5 years old. He absolutely needed his naps...even his daycare acknowledged he couldn't make it through the day. He was the last napper of his group and had to be weaned from naps to begin school....and had a rough year as a result. It wasn't until the next year we were referred for testing. He didn't have apnea (most common problem) and has to take medication to regulate his sleep, but it's an amazing difference. Proper sleep lets him interact far more normally...without sleep he just can't cope.
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