Toddler only naps 20-40 minutes

My 26 month old naps only 20-40 minutes each day and I am trying to figure out how to lengthen her nap time.  Her older sister used to nap consistently for 1.5-2 hours so this is new for us.  I understand that some toddlers need less sleep than others but after a short nap my daughter is cranky immediately after her nap and a mess in the evenings.  She sleeps at night from 7pm until 5:45 or 6am (a restless sleeper who often wakes several times in the night).  She can sooth herself to sleep at night in her crib, at least for her initial sleep at 7pm.  I have read that there is a sleep transition 40 minutes into sleep.  She must cycle out of sleep and then she cant fall back asleep again during her daytime sleep.  I have tried going into her room and rubbing her back when she initially wakes but this has only worked once.  I have tried CIO but it does not work.  I have a sound machine and room darkening blinds.  We have spent all morning running around the zoo and my daughter still only sleeps 40 minutes tops.  I have to pick my daughter up from TK at 1:50 so I have to fit in a nap before this time (I will have this same problem next year in K with the same pick up time). I have tried later naps times during vacation and on weekends and it doesnt make a difference.  Today she woke up after 35 minutes and was obviously exhausted but she refused to sleep.  How have others dealt with this?  Tired of a tired toddler.

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I don't have much advice except to hang in there! My first child was just like that, and stopped napping entirely by 2 1/2. Regardless of what we did, he wouldn't take naps longer than 20 - 40 min, and he was pretty bad at night too. CIO was a big fail. A few years ago we discovered he had sleep apnea (fairly mild, but probably worse when he was younger), as well as a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Now, as a teenager, he would sleep all day if we let him! Be on the lookout for apnea, but otherwise, you will probably just need to wait it out. Good luck!

I have a 23 mo old who used to take 22 or 43 min naps (yes, to the minute!) but is now sleeping for 1.5-2 hrs for naps. The only things that worked for her were to put her down for a nap earlier (not sure if you can do an earlier pick up from TK to get a nap in sooner), do a VERY consistent and longer nap routine (about 15 mins so she could wind down before going to bed and provide strong sleep cues). The earlier nap was probably the biggest help.

I didn't need to do this with my kid, but a friend had great success with the wake to sleep method. Essentially, you ever so slightly rouse the kid 5-10 mins before they habitually wake up to help them transition into the next sleep cycle. Not sure if that would work for your daughter if she doesn't have a predictable wake up. Google wake to sleep for more details because I'm sure I'm missing some of the specifics. 

Good luck!