Research has found that a 30- to 60-minute midday nap could be the secret to happier and smarter kids with fewer behavioural problems…

Children who nap 30 to 60 minutes midday at least three times a week are happier, have more self-control and grit, fewer behavioural problems, higher IQs and excel academically.

This is according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine.

The study included nearly 3 000 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders (ages 10-12) which linked a connection between midday napping and greater happiness, self-control, and grit, fewer behavioural problems, and higher IQ, the latter, particularly for the sixth graders.

Kids who nap achieve more

The most robust findings were associated with academic achievement, says Penn neurocriminologist Adrian Raine, a co-author on the paper.

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“Children who napped three or more times per week benefit from a 7,6% increase in academic performance in grade six,” he says. “How many kids at school would not want their scores to go up by 7,6 points out of 100?”

Sleep deficiency and daytime drowsiness are surprisingly widespread, with drowsiness affecting up to 20% of all children, says lead author on the study Jianghong Liu, a Penn associate professor of nursing and public health.

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Napping is a way of life in China

In many countries, napping stops altogether as children get older. However, in China the practice is embedded into daily life, continuing through school and even into adulthood.

Therefore, the researchers turned to the China Jintan Cohort Study, established in 2004 to follow participants from toddlerhood through adolescence.

From each of 2 928 children, the researchers collected data about napping frequency and duration once the children hit grades four through six, as well as outcome data when they reached grade six, including psychological measures like grit and happiness and physical measures such as body mass index and glucose levels.

They also asked teachers to provide behavioural and academic information about each student. They then analysed associations between each outcome and napping, adjusting for gender, grade, school location, parental education, and nightly time in bed.

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Source: University of Pennsylvania via www.sciencedaily.com

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