What are the positive effects of napping on memory?

- Categories : Child Sleep

Even today, the majority of parents consider sleep as a simple break, a pause during the day. However, while this is not obvious, many things happen during sleep! And they happen even more for our kids. Napping is extremely important for children from the age of 0 to 4-5. In addition to the positive effects on memory, and contrary to popular belief, napping  allows to fall asleep more easily in the evening.

Napping: a physiological need

Parents are well aware: sleep is more than just a period of "rest" to recover and tackle the next day in great shape. The need to sleep is as important as eating or feeling loved! In fact, it is during this period that your child grows up mentally as well as physically. Sleep allows the child:

- to secrete the growth hormone in order to grow well and strengthen their bone structure.

- recover from the day. It is at this moment that the body fights the viruses and heals the little sores of the day.

- to develop your memory by processing the information stored during the day.

- to be more emotionally stable. Sleep plays an enormously important role! Who has never felt grumpy or lacking concentration at work after a sleepless night? However, if a good night's sleep is enough for an adult to recover, it is not enough for a child and even more for a baby. This is where naps and daytime sleep come in to allow the child to grow at his own pace.

Napping, up to what age?

Every child is different and has unique sleep needs. If you notice signs of fatigue (anger, irritability, crying, yawning), and that your child sleeps more than 8 hours at night, it is certain that he still needs a nap during the day. Overexcitement every day at the same time may be the first clue that nighttime sleep is not enough for your child. It's up to you to watch your toddler carefully to see if an extra nap is needed or not. Although your baby has its own sleeper profile, here are some benchmarks representing an average of the number of naps depending on age:

Age GroupAgeNumber of napsRemarks :
New Born0 - 3 month4 à 6 naps-
Infant3 - 9 month3 napsUsually one in the morning, one in the early afternoon and the last later in the day
Baby9 - 18 month2 napsOne in the morning and the other after eating
Preschool2 - 4 years1 napsAn afternoon nap
SchoolAprès 4 years1 siesteThe child only needs one nap. But he may just prefer some time off to relax.

The positive effects of napping on children:

It is extremely important to understand that sleep, in general, has different stages: stage one is when you start falling asleep, stage two is light sleep, stage three is deep sleep, and finally, stage four is REM sleep, where the face shows signs of both deep sleep and awakening. These stages make it possible to recover physically, but they also allow to organize and process information. Of course, for children, the restorative effects of sleep are increased tenfold:

- It is during sleep that the child secretes the growth hormone, allowing them to grow and recover from the day.

- It is also during sleep that the brain processes what the child has learned during the day.

But why is napping so important? Shouldn't a good night's sleep be enough? Well, this is not true, do you think that napping is also important, especially for memorization.

The Scientific Experiment:

Researchers have decided to test the memory of young children. In the morning, they presented them with a memory game consisting of 9 to 12 pictures. Each child had to memorize the location of the pictures and then place them all back. Without surprise, by late morning, most kids memorized the same number of pictures. Then, half of them went to nap while the others stayed awake. In the afternoon, it was without context that the children who had rested, were the most successful at the exercise. Even the next day, after a good night's sleep, it is still those who took the nap that best recalled the location of the pictures.

This little experiment shows that napping plays a role as important as a good night's sleep in the child's learning process. But why? Simply because napping promotes the flow of information from short-term memory to areas of the brain dedicated to long-term memory! Result: Napping improves memorization and learning for children.

Napping in order to sleep better in the evening?

Second misconception: not getting your child to sleep during the day would tend to tire him/her and thus allow him/her to sleep better at night.

Well, this information is totally untrue. In addition improving memory, napping brings your child to sleep better in the evening! First, it helps to calm the child's agitation and relax them during the day. Resting allows to start late afternoon and early evening more calmly. Finally, the absence of a nap forces the brain to recover during the night. This one will directly chain two cycles of deep sleep to process all the information received throughout the day. Yet, it is during deep sleep that the child is most subject to the famous night terrors. They will therefore be more likely to wake up at night.

Tip 1: Have your child take a nap directly after lunch between 12 and 3 o'clock. It is necessary that the nap does not come too late so it does not to disturb the bedtime routine at night.

Tip 2: Avoid associating the nap with a punishment. The nap should be considered as a pleasant time of the day. You can even take a nap to lead by example! Napping also has beneficial effects for older children.

What if the child refuses to nap?

It is important even for the older ones to take a nap. Yet around 2-3 years, your child may refuse to fall asleep and rest. But a night's sleep is not enough for them yet! They may then pick up the habit of sleeping less and accumulate fatigue which will result in excitement and irritation. To deal with the refusal, it is important to make them understand that it is not a punishment. Take a nap directly after the meal to enjoy the period of digestion! Finally, do not let them sleep in a dark room.

For the more stubborn children, you can accept that they do not sleep but ask them to rest lying down for a period of 30 to 40 minutes.

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