Connecticut Families Extra: The Brain Benefits of Napping

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — Cranky, fussy, or whiny? Your child may be much better after a nap, which helps with emotional memory and the regulation of emotions.

Now, neuroscientists are learning more about emotional memory and the role of naps.

Researchers had kids look at faces of people described as ‘mean’ or ‘nice’ on a computer screen. Then, the scientists outfitted them with caps designed to measure brainwaves.

Laura Kurdziel, PhD and an Assistant Professor at Merrimack College, conducted the study while she was at UMASS.

“With all of the electrodes, we can look at the different sleep stages that the brain is in over the course of the night or the course of a nap,” said Kurdziel.

Related: Study: Getting enough sleep is important for newborns

She and her colleagues ultimately found that kids who got a full night’s sleep and had a nap were better able to remember those emotional faces than those who had not napped.

“Encouraging parents and teachers to try to promote the nap as long as they can I think will be beneficial in the long term,” said Kurdziel.

She says parents should not eliminate a child’s nap based on age, but watch for cues. Naps will naturally start to shorten. That’s a sign their body may no longer need the extra sleep.

Kurdziel says parents often think of they eliminate a child’s nap, bedtime will become easier. She says the opposite is true. If a child who needs a nap is deprived of one, the body is stressed and that sometimes makes it harder for the child to go to sleep at night.

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