Sleep Research Study Finds Daytime Naps Enhance Learning in Preschool Children

September 2013

Sleep researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst today offer the first research results showing that classroom naps support learning in preschool children by enhancing memory. Children who napped performed significantly better on a visual-spatial task in the afternoon after a nap and the next day than those who did not nap.

Research psychologist Rebecca Spencer, with students Kasey Duclos and Laura Kurdziel, say their results suggest naps are critical for memory consolidation and early learning, based on their study of more than 40 preschool children. “Essentially we are the first to report evidence that naps are important for preschool children,” Spencer says. “Our study shows that naps help the kids better remember what they are learning in preschool.” Results appear in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

With an increase in publicly funded preschools, parents and administrators have questioned the usefulness of naps. “There is increased public funding for preschools and increased enrollments in preschools due to a surge of research showing the long-term health and educational benefits of early education. But there was no research on napping so they were a target for elimination in order to make more time for more learning. We offer scientific evidence that the midday naps for preschoolers support the academic goals of early education.”

For this study, Spencer and colleagues recruited 40 children from six preschools across western Massachusetts. The researchers taught children a visual-spatial task similar to the game “Memory” in the mornings. In this game, children see a grid of pictures and have to remember where different pictures are located. Each child participated in two conditions.

In one condition, the children were encouraged to nap during their regular classroom nap opportunity. Naps lasted an average of 77 minutes as recorded by observers in the classroom. In the second condition, children were kept awake for the same amount of time. Memory for the game was tested after the nap and wake conditions and again the following day to see whether nighttime sleep affected performance.

Children forgot significantly more item locations on the memory test when they had not taken a nap (65 percent accuracy), compared to when they did nap (75 percent accuracy). Thus following a nap, children recalled 10 percent more of the test locations than when they had been kept awake.

“While the children performed about the same immediately after learning in both the nap and wake conditions, the children performed significantly better when they napped both in the afternoon and the next day,” the authors summarize. “That means that when they miss a nap, the child cannot recover this benefit of sleep with their overnight sleep. It seems that there is an additional benefit of having the sleep occur in close proximity to the learning.”

To explore the effect of sleep stages and whether memories were actively processed during the nap, the researchers recruited an additional 14 preschoolers who came to a sleep lab and had polysomnography, a record of biophysiological changes, during their average 73-minute naps. Here Spencer and colleagues noted a correlation between sleep spindle density, that is activity associated with integrating new information, and the memory benefit of sleep during the nap.

“Until now, there was nothing to support teachers who feel that naps can really help young children. There had been no concrete science behind that,” the neuroscientist says. “We hope these results will be by policy makers and center directors to make educated decisions regarding the nap opportunities in the classrooms. Children should not only be given the opportunity, they should be encouraged to sleep by creating an environment which supports sleep.”

The authors call for preschools to develop napping guidelines and further research on how to protect and promote naptime for young children to enhance their learning.

Source: http://www.umass.edu

All news in this category

Every cloud has a silver lining – the future of Steiner Schools in England

Many Steiner schools in England have come in for serious criticism of their practices in recent inspections by the schools inspectorate Ofsted.... [more]

Teheran: First International Congress on Education and Health

The University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences in Tehran organized a congress from 19 to 21 June 2018 with many contributions from... [more]

Hyderabad/India: Waldorf is booming

Waldorf Education is very popular in India – applications to the seven schools and more than 25 kindergartens are constantly increasing. No wonder.  [more]

São Paolo: teacher training center becomes a university

The teacher training center in São Paolo has been around for 40 years. Many Brazilian Waldorf teachers are trained here (sometimes also teachers from... [more]

Domestic report: The Netherlands

The first Waldorf school was founded in 1923 in The Hague. Amsterdam and Zeist followed in 1933. In the 1970s there was a strong growth in the number... [more]

Domestic report: Italy

While the number and distribution of Waldorf Steiner schools and kindergartens in Italy has not changed noticeably in the last years, there has been... [more]

Transforming Ownership to Create a Better Economy

Private ownership of companies drives our economic system but it has also created corporations that put profit above everything else, a divided... [more]

Why write? Penmanship for the 21st Century

What is the future of writing in the digital age, and why does it matter? In this surprising talk, Master Penman Jake Weidmann explores the... [more]

Polyhedric educational experiences

The main focus of this video is the recent development of the upper classes of the Scuola Novalis. The Libera Scuola Steiner-Waldorf “Novalis” is... [more]

Having 28 daughters. Waldorf Education in India

An interview with Manorama Kamineni, Sloka Waldorf School Hyderabad. [more]

Displaying results 1 to 10 out of 121

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Next >

Follow