Parents whose toddlers are learning to speak should remember the importance of naptime.
A short sleep of about 90 minutes could help young children remember words better, a study suggests.
Researchers took 24 children with an average age of two and taught them made-up words such as ‘bope’ and ‘dake’ made to sound like English.
A short sleep of about 90 minutes could help young children remember words better, a study suggests (stock)
Those children who took a nap after learning the words remembered them better four hours later, according to the University of Arizona team.
This may be because ‘dreaming’ sleep, known as REM sleep, helps the brain to consolidate memories and pick up language.
Children were taught the words by placing a space-themed computer game, with a recording using phrases such as ‘Look! A dake’ or ‘Touch the dake’.
Then the toddlers were presented with pictures of the objects named with these words and asked ‘Which one is the dake?’ or ‘Point to the dake’.
IS A NAP THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS?
The secret of happiness could be as simple as having a quick snooze in the daytime, research suggested last March.
A study found that taking naps of less than 30 minutes improves our sense of well-being, as well as boosting performance.
The Hertfordshire University researchers have suggested a new word to describe the contented feeling after a brief doze: ‘nappiness’.
The children, who were studied at home, had a nap shortly after the learning session or stayed awake.
Those who napped were better at remembering the new words both four hours and 24 hours afterwards, when they had slept overnight.
This result, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, did not apply to another 25 children in the study with Down’s syndrome.
Their brains may have differences in the memory centre, known as the hippocampus.
Dr Goffredina Spanò, lead author of the study, said: ‘We were very careful not to sleep-deprive the children, so the wake condition was done during a time when they wouldn’t usually nap.’
Professor Edgin added: ‘Clinical trials often don’t consider sleep as an important factor in the trial design.
‘If we can show that children learn differently when they nap, it shows how important healthy sleep really is.’