Health: First-Of-Its-Kind Research Shows Daytime Nap Helps Memory of Preschoolers
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By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A well-rested child usually means a less cranky child. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on a first-of-its kind study linking midday napping to better learning.
Abigail and Thomas Schlippert, of Abington, quit napping at an early age. But their mom says it’s clear her 3-year-old could often benefit from one.
“She just starts to melt down, more tantrums, whining, crying over silly things,” says Amy Schlippert.
Afternoon nap time is required at many preschools. And according to a new study, a little shut eye can help improve learning.
Researchers tested the memory skills of 40 preschoolers, once after the children 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 when the kids took a nap during naptime, they remembered everything they had learned in the morning,” explains Rebecca Spencer, the study’s author.
“I don’t think there’s any question about the importance of sleep for children,” says Dr. Curt Parnes, a pediatrician with Abington Memorial Hospital.
He isn’t surprised by the research and says well-rested children will be able to focus better and will be less distracted.
“Children need adequate sleep to function and learn adequately,” adds Dr. Parnes.
And experts say about an hour of napping is all it takes.
Furthermore, children who napped in the study also did better on memory tests the next day, suggesting the results are long lasting.
Researchers say these study results should answer critics who question the benefit of naps at school and want them eliminated to make more time for learning.