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  • Study Finds That Children Who Take Naps Are Happier, Excel in School, and Behave Better!

    Indeed, children can benefit from taking naps and getting good sleep.
    by Kate Borbon .
Study Finds That Children Who Take Naps Are Happier, Excel in School, and Behave Better!
PHOTO BY iStock
  • As if parents needed more convincing of how important naps are for children, a study done by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine, which was published in the journal Sleep, has found that children who take midday naps are more likely to be happier, perform better in school, and have fewer behavioral problems.

    The researchers looked into 2,928 children between the ages 10 and 12 and gathered information about how frequently they napped and how long their naps were when they were in Grades 4 to 6, as well as outcome data when the children were in Grade 6, such as psychological measures like happiness and grit, and physical measures like glucose levels and body mass index.

    Aside from that, the researchers also asked teachers for information about their students’ behavior and academic performance. Once the data was collected, they analyzed the associations between each outcome and napping.

    The study found that children who took naps at least three times in a week manifested a 7.6% increase in their academic performance in Grade 6, according to Adrian Raine, a neurocriminologist from the University of Pennsylvania and a co-author of the study. Aside from this, napping was also found to be significantly associated with “higher happiness, grit, and self-control, reduced internalizing behavior problem, higher verbal IQs, and better academic achievement,” the results stated.

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    Jianghong Liu, an associate professor of nursing and public health at the University of Pennsylvania and lead author of the study, also said sleep deficiency and daytime drowsiness were quite common. Around 20% of children experienced drowsiness during the day. The study also found that the negative effects of poor sleep habits on children’s cognitive, emotional, and physical health were well-established.

    According to Sara Mednick, a sleep researcher from the University of California, Irvine, this study is the first of its kind. “Many lab studies across all ages have demonstrated that naps can show the same magnitude of improvement as a full night of sleep on discrete cognitive tasks,” she stated in a press release from the University of Pennsylvania. “Here, we had the chance to ask real-world, adolescent schoolchildren questions across a wide range of behavioral, academic, social, and physiological measures.”

    She added that “the more students sleep during the day, the greater the benefit of naps on many of these measures.”

    Children need good sleep to be healthy

    Developing children require lots of good-quality sleep to grow healthily and have the right amount of energy they need every day — not just at night, but even during their naps. Aside from the findings of the study by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine, experts have stated that the lack of naps can impede a child’s brain development, creativity, mood, and behavior, and lead to child obesity.

    The World Health Organization (WHO)’s latest recommendations on physical activity, screen time, and sleep for young children underscore the importance of good sleep. The WHO’s recommendations on the amount of sleep kids need are as follows:

    • Infants ages 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours (including naps)
    • Infants ages 4 to 11 months: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
    • Children ages 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours (including naps, with regular sleep and wake-up times)
    • Children ages 3 to 4 years: 10 to 13 hours (which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times)

    For older kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has the following recommendations, which support the guidelines released by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM):

    • Children ages 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours (on a regular basis)
    • Teenagers ages 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours (on a regular basis)

    To help boost kids’ academic performance and overall health, it is important to make sure that they are able to get an adequate amount of sleep, both during naps and at night. If you’re struggling to get your little one to take his daytime nap, click here for some simple tricks you can try out.

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