According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, preschoolers can benefit from daily afternoon naps when it comes to understanding and recalling lessons in school.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted the study on 40 students from six preschools in Western Massachusetts. These children, between the ages of 3 and 5 ½, were asked to play a memory game wherein they would need to recall the placement of images.
They played the game before and after taking a nap, an average of 77 minutes for both, and the researchers noticed that they performed better after taking the nap, remembering 10 percent more of the images. This was higher than the average 65 percent when the kids would not nap. The same procedure was repeated the following day, and the students performed even better on the same task.
The researchers conducted the same study on a different set of preschoolers, 14 of whom were evaluated in a sleep lap as they napped. They discovered that there was a connection between the children’s brain activity and what they called “spindle density, a process underlying the stabilization and consolidation of the memory.”
"…the children performed significantly better when they napped both in the afternoon and the next day," said the study authors. "That means that when they miss a nap, the child cannot recover this benefit of sleep with their overnight sleep. It seems that there is an additional benefit of having the sleep occur in close proximity to the learning."
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The researchers noted that with these findings, educators would be encouraged to incorporate napping guidelines for their pupils into their curriculum.
•September 23, 2013. Mary MacVean. “Naps help preschoolers with memory” latimes.com
•September 23, 2013. Tanya Lewis. “Snooze Smarts: How Naps Help Preschoolers Learn” livescience.com
•September 23, 2013. Tracy Miller. “Save naptime! Daily naps help preschoolers with memory, cognition: study” nydailynews.com