University of Massachusetts Amherst study: Preschoolers need naps

15 Oct

Some folks claim they need as few as four hours of sleep. For most folks, less sleep is not healthy and it definitely isn’t healthy for children.
At least one study links obesity in children to lack of sleep. Reuters reported in Too Little Sleep Raises Obesity Risk In Children:

Children aged four and under who get less than 10 hours of sleep a night are nearly twice as likely to be overweight or obese five years later, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers from the University of California and University of Washington in Seattle looked at the relationship between sleep and weight in 1,930 children aged 0 to 13 years old who took part in a survey in 1997 and again five years later in 2002.
For children who were four years old or younger at the time of the first survey, sleeping for less than 10 hours a night was associated with nearly a twofold increased risk of being overweight or obese at the second survey.
For older children, sleep time at the first survey was not associated with weight status at the second survey but current short sleep time was associated with increased odds of a shift from normal weight to overweight status or from overweight or obese status at follow up. Dr. Janice F. Bell from the University of Washington said this study suggested that early childhood could be a “critical window” when nighttime sleep helps determine a child’s future weight status. According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers aged one to three years old should sleep for 12 to 14 hours a night; preschoolers, aged 3 to 5 years old, should sleep 11 to 13 hours, and 5- to 10-year-olds should get 10 to 11 hours. Teens should get 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep nightly.
Several studies have linked short sleep to excess weight in children and teens, Bell and fellow researcher Dr. Frederick Zimmerman from the University of California noted in their report.
But many of these studies have been cross-sectional, meaning they looked at a single point in time, which makes it difficult to determine whether not getting adequate sleep caused a child to become obese, or vice versa.
These findings, said the researchers, suggest there is a critical time period prior to age five when adequate nightly sleep may be important in terms of a healthy weight later on.

Children need proper nutrition and sleep not only to be healthy and happy, but to be ready to learn.

Dr. Michael J. Breus, Clinical Psychologist; Board Certified Sleep Specialist reported in the article, Naps During School? For Preschoolers, Yes:

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst investigated how naps influence memory and learning in young children. They found that a regular habit of midday naps increased memory and cognitive skills among preschool children — a boost that their study showed was not replicated by overnight sleep in the absence of a daytime nap. Researchers studied more than 40 preschoolers in six different classrooms. They conducted two different experiments — one centered on a learning and memory game taught to children and the other involved observing brain activity among young children during their naps usingpolysomnography.
In the learning exercise, children were shown a grouping of pictures and then had to recall the placement of individual pictures within the group. All the children learned the game at the same time in the morning. Researchers then split the children into two groups. One group took naps lasting an average of 75 minutes and the other group stayed awake. Researchers had the all the children perform the same exercise they’d learned in the morning after some had napped and others had not. Researchers also tested the children on the memory exercise the next day, to evaluate how a night of sleep might influence the children’s recall. They found that daytime naps were associated with significantly greater memory recall:
• The children, when tested on the same day they learned the exercise, all performed roughly the same whether they had napped or not.
• When tested the following day, children who had napped after learning the game the day before were able to remember significantly more of the picture locations than those who had not napped.
• The children who performed best on the memory test were those for whom daytime naps were a regular, consistent habit.
In the second experiment, researchers observed brain activity of a different group of preschool children while they were napping. They found an increase in the density of sleep spindles — bursts of electrical activity in the brain that are believed to play a significant role in memory consolidation, the process by which the brain takes newly acquired information and converts it to longer-term memory. Researchers were able to associate the increase in sleep spindle density they observed among the napping preschoolers to improvements in the children’s memory skills.
These study results provide some important and potentially significant new insight into the purpose and importance of naps in young children. The function of naps among preschool age children has not been well studied. Parents may know well from experience the mood and behavioral consequences of a missed nap, but science doesn’t actually yet know very much about the biological purpose that naps serve for children this age. A recent study by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder investigated the effects of naps on emotional and cognitive responses in children ages 2 to 3, and found that inconsistent napping was associated with diminished emotional and cognitive behavior. Missing a single nap led to an increase in children’s expression of anxiety and negative emotions, while also diminishing the expression of positive feelings of joy and excitement. Missed naps also were associated with greater difficulty in problem solving among these young children….


> Early Edition > Laura Kurdziel
Sleep spindles in midday naps enhance learning in preschool children
Laura Kurdziela, Kasey Duclosb,c, and Rebecca M. C. Spencera,b,1
Author Affiliations
A Neuroscience and Behavior Program, b Department of Psychology, and c Commonwealth Honors College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01002
Edited by Terrence J. Sejnowski, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, and approved August 19, 2013 (received for review April 5, 2013)
Lacking scientific understanding of the function of naps in early childhood, policy makers may curtail preschool classroom nap opportunities due to increasing curriculum demands. Here we show evidence that classroom naps support learning in preschool children by enhancing memories acquired earlier in the day as compared with equivalent intervals spent awake.
Despite the fact that midday naps are characteristic of early childhood, very little is understood about the structure and function of these sleep bouts. Given that sleep benefits memory in young adults, it is possible that naps serve a similar function for young children. However, children transition from biphasic to monophasic sleep patterns in early childhood, eliminating the nap from their daily sleep schedule. As such, naps may contain mostly light sleep stages and serve little function for learning and memory during this transitional age. Lacking scientific understanding of the function of naps in early childhood, policy makers may eliminate preschool classroom nap opportunities due to increasing curriculum demands. Here we show evidence that classroom naps support learning in preschool children by enhancing memories acquired earlier in the day compared with equivalent intervals spent awake. This nap benefit is greatest for children who nap habitually, regardless of age. Performance losses when nap-deprived are not recovered during subsequent overnight sleep. Physiological recordings of naps support a role of sleep spindles in memory performance. These results suggest that distributed sleep is critical in early learning; when short-term memory stores are limited, memory consolidation must take place frequently.
Development education
↵1To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: Author contributions: R.M.C.S. designed research; L.K., K.D., and R.M.C.S. performed research; L.K., K.D., and R.M.C.S. analyzed data; and L.K. and R.M.C.S. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.
Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.

Our goal as a society should be:

A Healthy Child In A Healthy Family Who Attends A Healthy School In A Healthy Neighborhood. ©


Another study: Sleep problems can lead to behavior problems in children

Albert Einstein School of Medicine study: Abnormal breathing during sleep can lead to behavior problems in children

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

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