ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – Young children that nap during the day may have a hard time sleeping at night, a new study finds.

Researchers in Australia found that among children ages 2 and up, those who napped were more likely to have trouble falling asleep at night, and to have more fitful sleep.

The researchers looked at children from a wide range of ages.

“Young children need to nap for optimal performance,” Dr. Richard Ferber, the director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the author of a previous study done in 2006, told Live Science.  “You don’t want to sleep deprive them to see if they can sleep deeper at night, you want them to sleep the best way.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that preschool-aged children sleep between 11 and 12 hours a day.

Karen Thorpe, of the Queensland University of Technology, led the group of researchers in this study, which looked at how sleep correlated with health issues, such as weight and behavior.

Older studies found no correlation between nighttime and daytime sleep duration.

“Napping past age 2 is very common,” Dr. Marc Weissbluth, a pediatrician and emeritus professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and the author of a similar study published in 2003, told Live Science. “There are plenty of 3-year-olds that nap and have no problems at all with night sleep.”

Weissbluth recommends an earlier bedtime for children that are not sleeping well.

The study was published in the Archives of Childhood Disease.

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