Napping to Learn

sleeping baby

A napping infant is busy learning and memorizing, a new study suggests.

Researchers tested 6- and 12-month old babies using a puppet with a removable mitten containing a bell. The experimenter engaged the child, then removed the mitten and shook it three times to demonstrate its sound and movement, and replaced the mitten on the puppet’s hand. She repeated the procedure several times. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

On average, the infants napped for 106 minutes during the ensuing four hours. But 21 of the 40 babies slept 30 minutes or less.

The next day, after all the infants had slept soundly for the night, the researchers presented the materials again to see if the infant would remember and try to reproduce the mitten procedure. The babies who had taken long naps after the teaching session were significantly better at reproducing the procedure than those who napped less than 30 minutes.

They need a break to work on the information they received throughout the day. This adds one more reason why it’s a good idea to read or do other activities around reading before bedtime.


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