Infants Learn Better Right Before A Nap, New Study Claims


Infants learn a lesson better right before a nap, according to new research from the University of Sheffield and Ruhr-University Bochum. The study was published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While it’s a well-known fact that newborns and toddlers need a nap to cope with physical and mental development, researchers now believe that napping could help them learn better, too.

Researchers examined 6 to 12 month old babies to see if napping would improve memory. They used a method known as imitation, in which researchers demonstrate an action and then test babies four to 24 hours later to gauge memory. The action can be something like removing a mitten from a puppy or shaking a bell.

Some 216 babies were split into three groups: one was allowed to nap for 30 minutes, one was not permitted to sleep more than 29 minutes and the third didn’t receive any demonstration from the researchers. The babies who napped longer than 30 minutes remembered the researchers’ action better than the baseline group. Toddlers without a nap performed better than the baseline, but not as well as the infants who had the longest nap.

“Until now people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide-awake, rather than when they are starting to feel tired,” researcher Dr. Jane Herbert said, “but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered.”

The groups were again tested after a night’s rest. Still, the results were the same. The babies who had not had a nap the previous day, in fact, had no recollection of the actions performed.

Researchers have suggested that bed time stories can help children develop stronger vocabulary skills later in life. The research conducted by this new study suggests that the timing is a contributing factor to that development.

Source: DailyMail / Photo Credit: Flickr


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