According to a new study, frequent naps can give a boost to the brain power of a growing baby.
<!--?xml:namespace prefix = st1 /--><st1:place><st1:placetype>University</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename>Arizona</st1:placename></st1:place> psychologists tested 48 babies (all of them 15 months old) by playing nonsensical sounds during learning sessions, all of which contained one specific pattern.
Before testing their level of attention for those similar sounds, the babies were divided into groups who would hear the sounds either after taking a nap or without any nap at all.
The babies who took naps in between learning and testing sessions performed better than those who didn't. The babies who got no sleep did recognize the phrases they learned earlier, but those who slept in between those sessions were better equipped to handle abstract learning, the ability to recognize general patterns in new information.
The ability to recognize patterns in new information signals an important change in memory that plays an essential role in a baby's cognitive development. Getting the right amount of sleep at night will also improve a baby's ability to learn as he or she grows up too.
In fact, sleep in early life may play a crucial role in brain development. Studies have indicated that sleep dramatically enchances changes in brain connections during critical periods of development.
If your child isn't sleeping properly please seriously consider increasing their exposure to sunshine. This simple, inexpensive change can increase their melatonin and vitamin levels. Don't slather on any sunscreen, though, just be careful to not expose their skin to any more sunlight than will make their skin the lightest pink color.
The capacity for "change," or growth and strengthening, of connections between nerve cells is the basis of development in the brain. The process of growth, known as plasticity, is believed to underlie the brain's capacity to control behavior, including learning and memory. Plasticity occurs when neurons are stimulated by events, or information, from the environment.
Animals allowed to sleep for six hours after a period of environmental stimulation developed twice the amount of brain change as those kept awake during the same period.
In addition, sleep and sleep loss modify the expression of several genes and gene products that may be important for synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, certain forms of long-term potentiation, a neural process associated with the laying down of learning and memory, can be elicited in sleep, suggesting synaptic connections are strengthened during sleep.
The bottom line is, make sure your infant gets enough sleep; it will be crucial for their brain function later in life.
Generally, getting the right amount of sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health and your life. It is an aspect of health that many trivialize, but if you aren't sleeping well it is really not possible to be optimally healthy.