The amount of time children spend napping may be crucial to cognitive and brain development. Research from the University of East Anglia, published in JCPP Advances, shows this. Some children are more efficient at consolidating information during sleep; others, however, who usually have fewer words and poorer cognitive skills, need more frequent naps. The research team emphasized that reducing naps does not always improve brain development, and toddlers should be allowed to nap as often and for as long as they need. “There is a lot of anxiety from parents about sleep,” said Teodora Gliga, principal investigator.
“Parents worry that their children are not getting as much sleep as expected for their age, or that they are sleeping too often and for too long,” Gliga continued. “But our research shows that the frequency of naps reflects children’s individual cognitive needs; some are more efficient at consolidating information during sleep, so they nap less frequently,” Gliga explained.
“Young children naturally sleep for as long as they need and should be allowed to do so,” the researcher added. Scientists studied 463 children between the ages of eight months and three years, for the period of 2020. Parents were asked about their children’s sleep patterns, their ability to focus on a task, retain information in memory, and the number of words they understood and could pronounce. Parents were, in addition, asked about their socioeconomic status, including zip code, income and education, and the amount of screen time and outdoor activities their children were engaged in.