Napping Boosts Baby’s Memory, Study Reports

By Cheri Cheng - 13 Jan '15 16:37PM

Napping right after learning can be vital for babies' brains, a new study reported. According to the researchers, napping boosts the process of preserving memories in babies.

"While people might assume that infants learn best when they are wide awake, our findings suggest that the time just before infants go down for sleep can be a particularly valuable learning opportunity," study author Sabine Seehagen, a child and adolescent psychology researcher with Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, said according to HealthDay.

For this study, the research team conducted two experiments involving a total of 216 infants aged six months or 12 months. In both experiments, the babies were taught how to take off mittens from animal puppets. After learning, some of the infants took a 30-minute nap while others did not. The team then tested the babies' memory either four hours or 24 hours later.

The team discovered that the babies who slept remembered how to remove the mittens. Their memory was significantly better when it was tested after 24 hours. The babies that did not sleep did not learn the task. Seehagen believed that it is "quite unlikely" that the babies who did not sleep did not learn the task because they were too tired.

"We discovered that sleeping shortly after learning helps infants to retain memories over extended periods of time," Seehagen concluded. "In both of our experiments, only those infants who took an extended nap for at least half an hour within four hours after learning remembered the information."

The study was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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