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New study suggests proper napping could boost a child's literacy skills

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Posted at 7:01 AM, Apr 04, 2022

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Australian researchers found that daytime naps could help boost preschoolers’ reading skills.

The recent study claims to prove how sleep affects children's memory and reading skills has been unclear until now.

About 32 kids ages 2 to 5 years old in Sydney, Australia were examined throughout two separate daycares. They participated in testing sessions learning how to pair letters and sounds for two to four weeks. The children did so without napping. A week later, they repeated the tests. Only this time the kids got to rest after learning. According to the results, the kids performed better after the daytime nap and their ability to match sounds and letters stayed the same the following day.

“When you're learning something, it might be confusing at first. But then when you sleep your brain is continuing to work to process that and consolidate it,” local clinical psychologist, Dr. Carollyn Ievers-Landis explained.

Ievers-Landis says that while the study is interesting, every child is different and so are their sleeping needs.

“I really encourage parents to kind of pay attention to that and not try to get your kid to sleep too long or too early,” she said. “A lot of kids give up napping even at the age of two. So, I don't want a lot of mommy or daddy guilt going around about that. It's normal in a lot of kids giving up naps around this time, but it's fun to think about how learning happens or learning to read might be facilitated for those kids who already do nap by learning it right before the nap.”

Researchers noted that because the testing was not performed in a lab, they were not able to confirm whether certain features of sleep like Rapid Eye Movement (REM) are responsible for the positive results.