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Strict Bedtimes Help Children by Contributing to Memory Development

Update Date: Feb 25, 2013 02:51 PM EST
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The old saying that 'mothers know best' may in fact be true for children who follow their parents bedtime curfews. People have known that a good night's sleep can rejuvenate and refresh the body both mentally and physically. What people did not know is the extent to which sleep can benefit young children's memory. According to new findings published in Nature Neuroscience, children who get a good night's sleep may actually have better memory development, which can translate to performing better in academics and other activities.

Researchers from the University of Tuebingen in Germany enlisted 28 children and adults in an experiment that measured memory recall. Dr. Jan Born and fellow researchers wanted to see if children and adults developed memory in the same way based off of the constant of a good night's sleep. The participants were first taught how to press buttons in a particular order through the trial and error method. This part of the experiment required implicit learning, learning without any specific awareness of the purpose. Following the training, the participants were told to get a good night's rest and return for the second part of the experiment. During the following day, each participant were asked to recall the sequence of the button presses from the day before, and researchers found that children performed better than adults.

The experiment tested one's explicit memory, which is conscious knowledge stored in the brain, and based from the performance levels of the children, researchers concluded that children's memory can benefit significantly from a good sleep. The findings concluded that children have an easier and more efficient time converting implicit memory into explicit memory during sleep, which is linked to learning. 

Explicit memory performance is linked to slow wave activity which can be found during the deepest stage of sleep, and researchers observed that children tend to have slower wave activity than adults. Slower wave activity has also been linked to better brain functions, such as learning, thinking, and remembering. Therefore, children benefit more than adults when they sleep. This study helps people understand why certain children perform better than others and reaffirm the need for bedtimes. 

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