It is no secret that a good night’s sleep makes you feel better. Not only does sleep give your body time to rest and recharge, it may also be crucial to your brain’s ability to learn and remember. Healthy sleep puts us in the right state of mind to take in information as we go about the day. Sleep actually triggers changes in the brain that solidify memories – strengthening connections between brain cells and transferring information from one brain region to another. Imaging and behavioral studies continue to show the critical role sleep plays in learning and memory. Researchers believe that sleep affects learning and memory in two ways; lack of sleep impairs a person’s ability to focus and learn efficiently and sleep is necessary to consolidate a memory so that it can be recalled in the future. Sleep, learning, and memory are complex phenomena that are not entirely understood. However, animal and human studies suggest that the quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on learning and memory.
The mechanism by which a good night’s sleep improves learning and memory has been discovered by scientists. The new research elaborates correlation of sleep and memory in kids while learning linguistic skills.
Researchers assessed 39 youngsters who were all 3 years old and found those who napped after learning new verbs had a better understanding of the words 24 hours later. According to co-author Rabecca Gomez, “there’s a lot of evidence that different phases of sleep contribute to memory consolidation, and one of the really important phases is slow-wave sleep, which is one of the deepest forms of sleep.” She is principal investigator at the University of Arizona’s Child Cognition Lab.
“What’s really important about this phase is that essentially what the brain is doing is replaying memories during sleep, so those brain rhythms that occur during slow-wave sleep … are actually reactivating those patterns — those memories — and replaying them and strengthening them,” Gomez said in a university news release. Despite the findings, parents shouldn’t fret if they can’t get their preschooler to nap during the day, the researchers noted. The most important thing is total amount of sleep.
Preschoolers should get 10 to 12 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. “We know that when children don’t get enough sleep it can have long-term consequences,” including poor performance on mental skill tests, Gomez said. If children don’t get enough sleep at night, it’s a good idea to encourage them to nap during the day, the study authors suggested. “It’s important to create opportunities for children to nap — to have a regular time in their schedule that they could do that,” Gomez said. In the study, the investigators chose to test the children on how well they learned and understood verbs rather than nouns because action words are typically more difficult to grasp than names, such as “Mommy” or “doggie,” which are often the first words kids learn.
The study elaborates how kids who sleep well are likely to learn new words faster than kids who sleep less. The overall evidence suggests that adequate sleep each day is very important for learning and memory for both kids and adults. Kids encounter more stuff to learn than adult therefore sleep is vital for the young ones.