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Naps Nurture Growing Brains 39

sciencehabit writes "Few features of child-rearing occupy as much parental brain space as sleep, and with it the timeless question: Is my child getting enough? Despite the craving among many parents for more sleep in their offspring (and, by extension, themselves), the purpose that sleep serves in young kids remains something of a mystery—especially when it comes to daytime naps. Do they help children retain information, as overnight sleep has been found to do in adults? A new study provides the first evidence that daytime sleep is in fact critical for effective learning in young children."
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Naps Nurture Growing Brains

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  • Good luck with that (Score:4, Informative)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:39PM (#44942863)
    modern schools are designed to condition kids to work hard on less sleep. Heck, public schools in America were original developed to get farm kids used to the kind of regimented life factory work requires (read "A people's history of the United States" for citation). America is all about working harder for less. I suppose it might be different in the rest of the world though.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      modern schools are designed to condition kids to work hard on less sleep.

      Work, not think. Naps are good for your brains.

      get farm kids used to the kind of regimented life factory work requires

      No thinking required. In fact, its discouraged.

      I'll add one more thought to this thread: Its not the schools that condition kids to sleep less. Its their peer group. Stay up late, hanging around on the corner, smoking or whatever. I don't recall that being a homework assignment at any school I ever attended.

      • Nope, they're happy to do both. The ones that can't do it fail and fall by the wayside. But who cares. There's just 'precious little snowflakes' that were coddled too much as kids. It's a big, bad world out there. Why waste effort making it better?
      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        The schools do play a part in that. They insist on starting early in the morning to suit later work schedules even though the natural rhythm would start the day later. A few high schools experimented with having a lter day and student performance improved, so naturally that idea is off the table.

  • by swamp_ig ( 466489 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:49PM (#44942929)

    That's interesting.

    Now how about some research on actually persuading your child to have a nap, rather than a protracted battle of wills that gets everyone on edge.

    Naps are great when they happen, but all parties must be willing

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @08:17PM (#44943109) Homepage Journal

      I was the only person in my kindergarten class who couldn't sleep during the day. (I still can't sleep during the day unless I'm severely jet lagged.) I just sort of sat there and thought about stuff for that half hour or however long it was. I'm pretty sure my learning was not in any way compromised by this.

      That conclusion is actually supported by the article, which says that kids who are used to taking naps don't learn as well if they don't take naps, but that kids who never take naps don't improve after taking one. So if all parties aren't willing, chances are, your kid is beyond the age where a nap is useful, pedagogically speaking.

      In other words, it is important to make naps available to kids who need them, but it is not useful to force naps on kids whose brains matured earlier. In an ideal world, there should be something for those kids to do other than lying there and feeling bored—perhaps a trip to the school library to read something, at least for those kids whose reading skills are far enough along to do so. My guess is that there's probably a roughly 1:1 correlation between those two groups.

      • Kintergarteners are a bit old for naps (5/6 year-olds). This article is talking about preschoolers, ages 3/4.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          IIRC, in preschool, nap time was the part of the day when I used to dismantle and reassemble old, broken rotary dial phones, occasionally fixing them in the process. :-)

    • Very true.
    • Now how about some research on actually persuading your child to have a nap, rather than a protracted battle of wills that gets everyone on edge.

      The article actually covers that. It may even be the most practical information in the entire thing - rub their feet. They report that it was surprising how well it worked. Sounds like it is the next best thing to an "off" switch.

    • > forcing naps

      The brain knows when it's ready to sleep. Perhaps turn off the TV and have some quiet time with a book.

      I can't count the times at work I needed a nap.

  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:55PM (#44942963)
    Among the many things I learned from the locals while working in Japan was the ability to power nap. Benefits are both physical and mental, but the underlying brain 'tech' is how short term memory is allowed to percolate over to long term. Anyone at any age can apply such a technique.
  • It's pretty good for us geezers, too.
  • The best nap is the one where you wake up to an eager mouth on your genitals, just as you orgasm.

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @08:11PM (#44943059) Homepage Journal

    While naps may help mental development in children, taking those afternoon naps in your cubicle will cause Dementia

    Wooooooaaaahhh! Spine-tingling and Spooky Clinical Studies for Halloween!

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @08:33PM (#44943255)

    Children getting a lot of sleep is an evolutionary adaptation, since parents driven beyond the brink make poor caregivers.

  • Isn't every brain growing?
    • (I've only read the summary, so...)

      If there is a real relationship and effect, I expect it is related to the proportion of new information that a baby/toddler/young child needs to process.

    • No.
      If this were true the guy in the cubicle next to me would have a massive brain.

  • by pax humana ( 1724972 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:52PM (#44944083)
    In an effort to be of most intellectual value to my employer, I start the day with an Ambien. Then I'm really productive the last two hours of the day.
  • My brothers (aged 6 and 8 while I was 3) used to drug me with a NyQuil laced ice cream shake they'd call a "Shamrock Shake" so they could go out to play. Worked wonders, but I won't leave a drink unattended til this day.
    • To which I can only wonder:

      A) Did you never catch on, or did you just figure that a tasty ice cream treat was worth a nap?

      B) Nobody should leave a drink unattended in any sort of public place, so good thing you learned that lesson the "easy" way.

  • Not sure what mystery there is. But a long standing theory, as stated, about sleep and dreams is that it's when the brain organizes the information you gained during the waking hours, throws away the stuff that is meaningless or already gained knowledge from past experiences, and then figures out what new experiences are needed to store for short and long term recall.

    Considering that for children EVERYTHING is new to them, taking naps during the day most likely is better so they can tuck away all that new

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.