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A recent study suggests that regular naps are critical to memory retention in younger children, BBC News reports.

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In University Of Sheffield trials, 216 babies as old as 12 months failed to remember new tasks if they didn’t get extended sleep soon after.

The team conducting the study concluded that infants learn best when new information is followed by sleep. They also noted that reading to young ones before bedtime is imperative for boosting their literacy.

Babies in the program learned tasks by interacting with hand puppets. Half of those babies napped within four hours of learning the tasks; the rest experienced no sleep or under 30 minutes of it.

The following day, the babies were encouraged to repeat what they’d learned. Findings showed that one-and-a-half tasks could be repeated in the first group, none in the latter.

“Those who sleep after learning learn well, those not sleeping don’t learn at all,” commented Dr. Jane Herbert, from Sheffield’s department of psychology.

Previously, experts assumed that wide-awake babies are better learners. However, it “may be the events just before sleep that are most important,” Herbert added.

The results lend credence to the idea that sleep is important in general. Though scientists have yet to discover why people sleep, another study by the University of Harvard suggests it can assist memory and learning in people of all ages.

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