How does sleeping help babies development
Babies spend most of their time sleeping in the first months of their life. New research has shown that there are links between sleep and development during the first year of life.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield and Ruhr University Bochum, Germany have conducted a study to show the importance of sleep to retain facts, events and knowledge.
Dr Jane Herbert, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, said: “These findings are particularly interesting to both parents and educationalists because they suggest that the optimal time for infants to learn new information is just before they have a sleep”.
The majority of people believe that the optimal time for babies to learn is when they are wide-awake, but the study suggests otherwise. The study consisted of 216 six to twelve month-old children and tested them on their ability to recall new skills after having a daytime nap. Researchers thought that daytime sleeping after learning would help babies to recall new behaviour.
The children were tested after four and 24-hour intervals to see whether they had retained the new skill (removing and manipulating a mitten from a hand puppet). There was a control group of children who did not nap after learning the skill who were then compared with children who napped for at least 30 minutes within four hours of learning.
The study found that only children who napped remembered the actions and those who did not had no recollection of the new skill.
“Parents receive lots of advice about what they should and shouldn’t do with their baby’s sleep schedule,” said Dr Herbert. “This study, however, examined learning opportunities around naturally occurring naps and showed just how valuable activities like reading books with young children just before they go down to sleep can be.”
The study recommends flexible napping schedules for children as it could help ensure optimal learning conditions and aid babies development. Naps need to be at least 30 minutes as any shorter, and there was no evidence that the children could retain the information.