A new study conducted by German and British researchers shows that babies learn new things easier ifthey have at least a 30-minute-long nap after having learned new tasks. The study involved 216 six- to 12-month-olds.
The researchers found that these babies couldn’t remember new tasks, such as playing with hand puppets, if they didn’t have a nap soon afterwards.
The study was led by scientists from the University of Sheffield, in the U.K., and Ruhr University Bochum, in Germany. The team recommends that parents should try and teach their infants new things put them to sleep and repeat the process. Reading bedtime stories is also a good habit, researchers said.
Scientists think that sleep may be more important in early stages of life than later. Yet, the German and U.K. team of researchers said that “strikingly little was known” about sleeping in the first year of life. However, people sleep more during their infancy than at any other age in their lives.
For scientific purposes, one half of the babies involved in the study were put to sleep soon after learning new tasks, while the other half had no sleep or took brief naps of less than 30 minutes. The next day, the babies who slept longer were able to repeat the new tasks, while babies who lacked sleep didn’t remember a thing.
The study revealing that infants learn better before a lengthy nap was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Those who sleep after learning learn well, those not sleeping don’t learn at all,”
said Jane Herbert, co-author of the study and researcher at the University of Sheffield.
She also said that the new findings were challenging the past beliefs that wide-awake was best for learning new things. According to the new study, the best time for learning during infancy is just before sleep. So, reading bedtime stories to your kid might be just the right thing to do.
Dr Herbert also said that parents usually got loads of advice. Some pediatricians recommend fixed sleep, while others flexible sleep hours. However, the study recommends neither, but flexibility “would be useful.”
Prof Derk-Jan Dijk, sleep expert at the University of Surrey who wasn’t involved in the study, said that the findings might be linked to the fact that sleep is more important “at some ages than others.” However, he said that learning before bedtime may not be the greatest idea.
What the data show is sleeping after training is positive, it does not show that being sleepy during training is positive,”
Dr. Derk-Jan Dijk explained.
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