Years ago, I was teaching a preschool class where the topic was the letter g and, wearily holding up the alphabet card, I asked the group of 20 if they remembered the letter, not really expecting an answer. “G,” came a little voice, and when I turned to see who it belonged to, I almost tipped over from shock. It was Josh, a special education student who had been a crack baby and on whom – I hate to admit – I had just about given up.
From that point, I stopped seeing myself as a glorified babysitter and by the end of the year, Josh was reading and more advanced than the rest of his peers, including the two-thirds of the class that made up the general ed population.
Josh had been a champion napper and in the following years I noticed that those kids who were the best sleepers were also the best learners. I chalked this up to coincidence until recently. Research now shows that during sleep, especially the REM variety, short-term memories are transferred into long-term. This also makes way for new memories, which means catching a snooze is important not only after learning but before-hand as well. Studies show sleep helps in learning whether you’re a college student, a senior citizen or a fruit fly.
[stay tuned for the next part of this story]
Naps wipe the brain’s memory slate clean, a new sleep study says http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/02/100222-sleep-naps-brain-memories/