Study: Kids Who Nap Midday Are Happier (Among Other Things)
Do you love a good power nap? I know I do! It's amazing what a midday snooze can do for your mind, body, and attitude. I'm a huge advocate of naps for adults and kids alike. My son is almost four and I'm holding on to his nap for as long as he'll allow it. At home, he usually goes down with little to no fight and wakes up refreshed and happy (#MomWin). At school, he's the first one down and the last to get up. I think most parents would agree that naps work wonders for their kids and now a new study backs up that parental insight.
New research from The University of Pennsylvania and The University of California, Irvine and published in the journal SLEEP, shows a correlation between naps and positive outcomes in a number of areas. The study examined 3,000 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students (ages 10-12) in China and collected data about napping frequency and duration. Researchers also asked teachers to provide behavioral and academic information about each student, then they analyzed associations between each outcome and napping. The study looked at psychological data like grit and happiness, as well as physical data, such as body mass index and glucose levels.
The results showed that those students who received 30 to 60 minutes of midday shuteye at least three days a week showed significant improvements over those who did not, including greater happiness, self-control, and grit. It also shows a positive link between napping and a higher IQ (particularly for 6th graders) and it implies that those students who napped had fewer behavior problems.
One of the most interesting findings, however, was associated with academic achievement. According to Penn neurocriminologist and co-author of the paper, Adrian Raine, “Children who napped three or more times per week benefit from a 7.6% increase in academic performance in Grade 6”.
The negative cognitive, emotional, and physical effects of poor sleep habits are well-established, and yet most previous research has focused on preschool age and younger, which is partially because in places like the United States, napping stops altogether as children get older. In China, however, the practice is embedded into daily life, continuing through elementary and middle school, even into adulthood.
This was the first comprehensive study of its kind, says UC Irvine sleep researcher, Sara Mednick: “Many lab studies across all ages have demonstrated that naps can show the same magnitude of improvement as a full night of sleep on discrete cognitive tasks. Here, we had the chance to ask real-world, adolescent schoolchildren questions across a wide range of behavioral, academic, social, and physiological measures.” Predictably, she adds, “the more students sleep during the day, the greater the benefit of naps on many of these measures.”
No surprise here - naps are good! There are lots of countries that practice a midday siesta. Perhaps it's time we get on board.
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