Did you know that the more your baby sleeps during the day the more it helps them to process and preserve their memories? This is according to a new research study.
“We discovered that sleeping shortly after learning helps infants to retain memories over extended periods of time,” said study author Sabine Seehagen, a child and adolescent psychology researcher with Ruhr University Bochum in Germany. “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.”
There is no definitive conclusion that the naps are responsible for the memory retention, according to the study, but researchers are of one mind that it is happening. “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,” Seehagen said.
Although scientists have no idea really what happens when babies take a lot of sleep, they believe the more babies sleep the better memories they have.
The study was done using two experiments. In both experiments, babies between 5 months to 12 month, were trained how to take off mittens from animal puppets. Afterwards some of the 116 babies involved in the research took a nap while the others didn’t.
Then the babies were asked by the researchers to take the mittens off, some four hours after while others after 24 hours later.
The result was that only those who took a nap were able to remember what they’d learned more so those who were told to do it after the 24 hours elapsed. .
It’s “quite unlikely” according to the study author Seehagen, for the babies who didn’t take a nap to be so tired that they couldn’t remember what was taught to them. She said that more tests is required to reach a definite conclusion.
The question is how many times do babies need to take a nap and how long?
“The small number of studies makes it difficult to make firm recommendations to parents,” said Angela Lukowski, an assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine.
However, “the lesson for parents seems to be that napping after learning may help infants remember information over time,” she said. She added, “Naps of at least 30 minutes seem to be helpful, although there hasn’t been much, if any, research into shorter naps”.
Adults, don’t have worry about taking a nap to preserve their memories. “There are many studies in the literature showing the benefit of naps for adults, but adults do not need to nap to retain new memories,” said Rebecca Gomez, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona.
The new study is published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.