Research abound reiterating the beneficial effects of a good overnight sleep on emotion processing and emotional memory in adults. In pre-school children and toddlers, teachers and caregivers put great emphasis on the beneficial effects of naps on their emotion processing. However the role of sleep bouts on memory processing and particularly memory consolidation is still an unexplored realm in toddlers. A new research finds that short naps when followed by an overnight sleep in toddlers (34–64 months) indeed had beneficial effect on emotion processing in preschool children. The study by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst analyzed the effect of the interplay of overnight sleep bouts and naps on memory consolidation. They were particularly interested in analyzing the role of these on emotional memories in children.
The details of the study can be accessed online in the journal Scientific Reports.
Naps and Sleep Bouts positively Effects Memory Consolidation in Toddlers
The study noted noticeable beneficial effect of the nap and overnight sleep bouts on memory processing, particularly emotional memory, in young children only after the changes were probed after 24 hours. However, it found that naps in children do increase memory accuracy, if only incrementally, compared to those who were kept awake.
The researchers also found that higher duration of nap slow wave activity caused more memory decay during the nap. Current theories posit REM sleep to be a key determinant of consolidation of memories with emotional valence in adults. Since children for the most part are deprived of this sleep stage, a subsequent overnight sleep is therefore necessary to account for this favorable impact.
Naps crucial part of Socio-Emotional Curriculum for Pre-School Children
The study findings will pave way for designing socio-emotional curriculum for pre-school children. A more effective socio-emotional curriculum is necessary for long-term academic success, opine the researchers.
The study presented 49 children with faces paired with ‘mean’ or ‘nice’ word descriptions to assess the role of emotionally-valenced memories on recognition memory in children. The study findings in all thus confirm the common observation of the activity of procedural memory consolidation in preschool-aged children. Thus the authors conclude that naps averaging 70 minutes might prove helpful in pre-school education as well as later learning in pro-school years.