The Link Between Sleep and Learning

A new study presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that napping may induce higher learning and information retention in infants. While previous studies have studied the effects of sleeping on the brain in adults, this is the first study which looks into infant brain development as a result of sleep. Researchers found that infants were able to retain information better if taught a task right before a 30 minute nap. The scientists found that naps that lasted less than 30 minutes did not have the effect of increasing memory of the task, but naps that lasted for longer than 30 minutes had results that were detectable for up to 24 hours of observation.

While common wisdom had previously suggested that teaching is best undertaken while awake and alert, this study and others conducted in adults suggest that the best time for learning may actually be right before a nap.

“These findings are particularly interesting to both parents and educationalists because they suggest that the optimal time for infants to learn new information is just before they have a sleep. Until now, people have presumed that the best time for infants to learn is when they are wide awake, rather than when they are starting to feel tired, but our results show that activities occurring just before infants have a nap can be particularly valuable and well-remembered,” said one of the study’s lead researchers Dr. Jane Herbert of the University of Suffield.

It follows that the best study aid may not be coffee or another study booklet but instead a quick nap.

 

Read More – Napping May Help Infants’ Learning Skills (Medical News Today, Honor Whiteman)

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Originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland, Millan is a senior at the George Washington University studying Biological Anthropology.

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