Learning, Memory, and Naps

by Lynn Dorman, Ph.D. // January 14 // 2 Comments
napping baby

A study with infants, aged 6 to 12 months, showed that napping aided memory and learning.

They [the researchers] taught six- to 12-month-olds three new tasks involving playing with hand puppets. 

Half the babies slept within four hours of learning, while the rest either had no sleep or napped for fewer than 30 minutes.

The next day, the babies were encouraged to repeat what they had been taught.

The results, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed "sleeping like a baby" was vital for learning.

On average one-and-a-half tasks could be repeated after having a substantial nap.

Yet zero tasks could be repeated if there was little sleep time.

We need to be awake when learning, but it seems that a nap right after the learning aids memory. The researchers go on to say that reading to a child just before bedtime is good.  We know that sleep helps our brains make new cellular connections and to me, the new connections help learning and retention of that learning.

I recall from a college psych class lecture, that studying for an exam and then going directly to sleep was the best thing to do.  That was for adults - and no surprise that it works for babies as well.

Having just gone through new puppyhood, I will say, it seems to work for dogs as well....

I love that more and more research on learning, brains, sleep, and memory are appearing. All these findings may help us to develop to our fullest potentials all through our lifecycle

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