NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Most parents and caregivers know that a napping child usually means a less cranky kid later in the day. But a midday snooze may also improve a child’s learning skills, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts tested the memory skills of 40 preschoolers — once after they napped, and once after they skipped their midday rest.
“We found the kids who stayed awake forgot 15 percent of the information they learned in the morning, whereas the kids who took a nap during nap time, they remembered everything they had learned in the morning,” said Rebecca Spencer, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts.
During naps, researchers measured little bursts of brain activity called “sleep spindles.”
“We think these bursts represent markers of plasticity of when the brain is really susceptible to forming new memories,” Spencer said.
Researchers say their results answer critics who question the benefit of naps and want them eliminated to make more time for learning.
At Bright Horizons, a preschool in Manhattan, children take naps every afternoon. Teacher Zenobia Shroff said she notices the difference in her students after they wake up.
“Their social interaction is better,” she said. “They are happier, less cranky. They participate much more.”
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