Why Regular Napping Helps Kids Learn
All parents know napping is a necessity where their children are babies, but did you realize that continued napping helps kids learn? While some children begin to drop their naps around age three, those children who continue napping through the preschool years tend to perform better. As you will see in this article, studies show that preschoolers benefit from regular napping.
More Positive Attitudes
Often, one of the first signs that a child is tired is the change in his/her attitude. Cranky children are usually tired children. Plus, when children are sleepy, they struggle. Teachers will attest that these children struggle with focusing and grasping new information. However, children with positive attitudes are much more willing to try new things and learn new skills.
Increase the Ability to Deal with Stress
Regular napping is also a way to help children deal with stress. In a sleep study by the University of Colorado at Boulder, scientists found that the cortisol awakening response is triggered by napping. As Perri Klass, M.D. explains, “They showed that children produce this response after short naps in the morning and afternoon, though not in the evening, and it may be adaptive in helping children respond to the stresses of the day.”
Higher Memory Retention
Multiple studies have reported that regular napping leads to higher memory retention. One study by the University of Arizona found preschoolers who regularly napped had more achievements in language learning. For example, those who napped learned new words and understood their meanings. Also, the University of Massachusetts Amherst studied the effects of napping on preschoolers by having children play the game Memory. They found “skipping the nap led to a 10% drop in the children’s accuracy in the memory-based game.”
Better Cognitive Performance
Studies on adults have found that sleep is essential to improve cognitive performance, and the same is true for children. It is when we sleep that our brains process memories. Also, those who do not get enough sleep struggle with other cognitive functions. As the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School explains, “Concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning are all aspects of cognitive function compromised by sleep deprivation.”
While it is clear that regular napping helps kids learn, it may be challenging to get your child to continue to nap after he/she has given up naptime. What is most important is the total amount of sleep your child is getting within 24 hours; therefore, if your preschooler is sleeping 10 – 12 hours at night, you should not worry.