Apparently the Smartest Kids Are the Ones Still Taking Naps

napping toddlerThe day my daughter gave up naps was a day I will forever mourn. Well, until she's a teenager and she naps all day, avoiding chores, homework, and ignoring anything mama needs to tell her. But those toddler naps were golden even if they were just an hour. I had it down to a precise science on how many things I could get done in that time. Her twin brother, however, is still a champion napper. So technically I still have somewhat of a break when he naps.

Apparently those daytime slumbers aren't just important for me; naps are vital to strengthening our kids' brains. According to some research, it's my napping son who is going to be the smarter one. 

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To be honest, there are some ways I feel my son is smarter than my daughter. (Don't tell my daughter that.) But in other ways, my daughter excels more than my son. I figured this was just because no two kids develop at the same pace or in the same ways. Both of them might not be talented mathematicians whose brains are so sought after by high-profile companies that pay them extreme amounts of money so none of us will ever have to worry about bills again. One kid who scores that kind of gig is fine. I'm not greedy. But this sleep study out of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says that naps improve memory and learning. When 40 preschoolers skipped their naps, they recalled 10 percent fewer answers on a memory test than when they did nap.

Research psychologist Rebecca Spencer said, "We're providing a simple proof that naps are really critical to the day."

A good night's sleep isn't going to make up for the missed daytime nap either. Spencer notes that kids in preschool should also be allotted nap time because kids retain more when they nap closer to the time they are learning. The hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory) is super small for toddlers, and they simply cannot store a lot there. A nap recharges and processes the learnings, allowing the brain to learn, the hippocampus to theoretically empty and therefore make room for more information. 

Fascinating stuff. But I still want to know more. In the rare event my daughter does nap during the day, she doesn't fall asleep at bedtime and sometimes stays up really late. Not sure how to resolve that one. But I'm cherishing my son's napping for now. 

What do you think of this study? Does your toddler still nap?

 

Image via Summer/Flickr

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Behavior & Development learning toddler sleep toddler development

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