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The No-Cry Nap Solution: Explaining the Volcano Effect (page 2)

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Updated on May 14, 2012

Caring for kids on top of the daily grind often leaves parents begging for a nap—and sleep research from the National Sleep Foundation suggests that there’s a scientific explanation for feeling bone-tired. Even in adulthood, a mid-day nap or rest break of 20-30 minutes is extremely beneficial in reducing the sleep pressure, and improving mood, alertness and performance.

The Volcano Effect isn’t only turning your kid into a tiny tyrant—the biological process affects you as well. Understanding this can help you interpret what’s really going on at the end of a long day, when kids are whiny and parents grumpy—turning your home into a veritable Ring of Fire.

Also, issues such as the previous poor night’s sleep, on-going sleep deprivation, or daily stress exacerbate the Volcano Effect. What's more, each person’s moodiness feeds off the others, causing contagious crankiness. As your child stomps around, you’ll find yourself losing patience and saying things like, “I’m sorry, honey. Mommy’s just tired right now”—a very telling explanation that’s often not analyzed.

Quality naps can make up for lost night sleep, but extra zzz’s at night doesn’t make up for missed naps, due to the homeostatic sleep pressure concept. No matter how hectic your day gets, avoid the urge to skip your baby’s daytime sleep—it’s crucial to make time for daily naps and give your kid the chance to release the rising sleep pressure.

Parenting educator Elizabeth Pantley is the president of Better Beginnings, Inc., a family resource and education company. She is also the author of twelve parenting books, including the popular "No-Cry" series.

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