Babies Learn Better When They Sleep

Parents of young children know that naptime is a glorious time when you have, just for a little while, a moment to rest. Of course, we’ve always known that naps are not only good for the Mommy or Daddy. They’re obviously something the baby needs as well. A new study indicates just how important that down time is for a child.

A story today in the Arizona Daily Star fills us in on a presentation of the findings of University of Arizona brain researchers. The scientists presented the findings this past weekend of a study that shows that, while sleeping, babies organize and decipher information they have learned during the day. Researchers already knew that adult brains worked this way, but this is the first study that indicates that behavior starts early…

The study tested 48 babies at 15 months old by introducing them to phrases from a made-up language and then testing their attentiveness to the same words and to phrases that followed a similar arrangement.

Babies who slept between the learning and testing stages were more attentive to the slightly different phrases, [associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study, Rebecca] Gomez said. They recognized not just words but patterns of speech.

Gomez says that the attentiveness of the babies who napped allows the research team to infer that learning is enhanced if it is followed by sleep.

By the way — Gomez said don’t worry if your kids skip a nap here or there.  They’ll hear language throughout the day, and get caught up the next time they sleep.

Read more about the study by clicking here.  Read more on babies and sleep in the Sleep Solutions section.