Although a lot of kids stop taking regular naps after their preschool days, a new study says that a little midday shut-eye could be beneficial even for middle schoolers.
The research, published in the journal Sleep, found that fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students who napped were happier and better behaved, and had higher IQs and better grades.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine studied nearly 3,000 students, ages 10-12. While children in the United States typically don’t lay down for a nap as they get older, in China, kids continue to nap daily through elementary and middle school, and adults often nap as well.
So to analyze the effects of napping, the researchers looked at participants in the China Jintan Cohort study, which was established in 2004 to follow people from toddlerhood through adolescence. The effects of napping were adjusted for sex, grade, school location, parental education and nightly time in bed. Teachers provided information about each student’s behavior and academic performance.
“Children who napped three or more times per week benefit from a 7.6% increase in academic performance in Grade 6,” Adrian Raine, University of Pennsylvania neurocriminologist and co-author of the study, said in a press release. “How many kids at school would not want their scores to go up by 7.6 points out of 100?”
Although the findings only show correlation, not causation, researchers feel that the potential benefits of midday napping are worth it, as there are little to no risks involved.
“The midday nap is easily implemented, and it costs nothing,” Jianghong Liu, a University of Pennsylvania associate professor of nursing and public health and lead author of the study, said in the press release. “Not only will this help the kids, but it also takes away time for screen use, which is related to a lot of mixed outcomes.”
What do you think? Could you convince your sixth-grader to come home from school and curl up in bed for some quick Zs?