Regular naps in the middle of the day can do wonders for children's mood, behavior, and even academic performance, according to new research.
Sleep has long been hailed as a significant factor of an individual's overall well-being, affecting everything from mental health to weight to heart problems.
The new study published in the journal Sleep focuses specifically on midday naps and their effects on students of ages 10 to 12.
Study Explores The Effects Of Naps On Adolescents
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine collected data on the napping frequency and duration of 2,928 children at fourth, fifth, or sixth grades. At sixth grade, outcome data was collected including grit, happiness, physical measures, behavioral data, and academic information.
Following the researchers' analysis, findings showed a clear link between midday napping and greater happiness, more self-control, more grit, fewer behavioral problems, higher IQ, and even better academic achievements.
"Children who napped three or more times per week benefit from a 7.6% increase in academic performance in Grade 6," said study co-author and neurocriminologist Adrian Raine in a news release from the University of Pennsylvania. "How many kids at school would not want their scores to go up by 7.6 points out of 100?"
Significance Of The Study
Lead author Jianghong Liu, who is an associate professor of nursing and public health at Penn, explained that drowsiness affects 20 percent of all children. Even so, previous research focused on preschool children or younger because older children stop napping altogether.
Sara Mednick, a sleep researcher from UC Irvine, explained that theirs is the first comprehensive study of its kind.
"Here, we had the chance to ask real-world, adolescent schoolchildren questions across a wide range of behavioral, academic, social, and physiological measures," she added Mednick. "The more students sleep during the day, the greater the benefit of naps on many of these measures."
This new research offers an alternative to the push from health officials to begin implementing classes later in the day.
As Liu pointed out, a midday nap is easy to implement and entirely free. Furthermore, naps will take time away from children's screen time, which is associated with many mixed outcomes.
Further research could explore why children of better-educated people nap more than the children of less-educated people. Scientists could also study whether nap interventions could be implemented on a global scale once culture and personality are taken into account.