Naps Can Enhance Your Child’s Emotional Memory, Study Says

As if we needed another reason to love naptime.

By: Amanda Mushro
Boy sleeping on bed holding a soft toy by his side, against a soft cream background.

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Boy sleeping on bed holding a soft toy by his side, against a soft cream background.

Photo by: Click&Boo

Click&Boo

Who doesn’t love a good nap? Just as much as we love catching a few extra winks during the day, parents of young children know that napping is essential for avoiding meltdowns. Meanwhile, they get rest and wake up happier, and we get a little break. So really, naptime is a must for both kids and parents. Now, a new study is shedding light on the unexpected benefits of naptime.

According to a study from sleep researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, your child’s nap does more than put them in a better mood, it can actually help their memory. For the study, researchers worked with children between the ages of three and five. They presented kids with pictures of men and women’s faces that were paired with “mean” or “nice” descriptions such as, "Lena is always nice. Today she helped us pour milk into our cups at lunch time." Then at bedtime, kids were fitted with special caps with electrodes that were used to record their sleep stages during the night.

The kids were tested for recognition of these faces three times: once being immediately after seeing the pictures, again after a delay of either a nap or being awake for “quiet time” and, finally, the next day. What they found was kids who had a full night’s sleep and a nap performed better than the kids who did not nap.

"This study demonstrates that napping is beneficial to memory processing," the study says. “As such, napping remains an important part of the daily preschool schedule and sufficient time for sleep should be protected."

Sometimes, if kids are not sleeping well, parents may try to keep their child from napping during the day in hopes of them sleeping better throughout the night. According to this study, this may backfire in the long run.

So, here’s to naptime and all of its benefits—even if it’s just a few quiet minutes for mom and dad.

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