High IQ and Academic Excellence

May come as easy as a nap

Child reading

Child reading

Children who nap 30 to 60 minutes midday at least three times a week are happier, have more self-control and grit, and fewer behavioral problems, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine, writing in the journal SLEEP.

The children who napped most also had higher IQs and excelled academically.

Read: Child's IQ

The study was done in China where napping is far more common than in the US. The researchers looked at data from almost 3,000 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, ages 10-12, who were part of the China Jintan Cohort Study, established in 2004. The strongest findings were on napping and academic achievement, according to Penn neurocriminologist Adrian Raine.

“Children who napped three or more times per week benefit from a 7.6% increase in academic performance in Grade 6,” he told the medical media. “How many kids at school would not want their scores to go up by 7.6 points out of 100?”

Non-Nappers Common

Sleep deficiency and daytime drowsiness are surprisingly widespread, with drowsiness affecting up to 20% of all children, lead author Jianghong Liu, a Penn associate professor of nursing and public health, explained, adding that, in the US, napping stops altogether as children get older. In China, however, the practice is embedded into daily life, continuing through elementary and middle school, even into adulthood. China Jintan Cohort Study, established in 2004 to follow “participants from toddlerhood through adolescence.”

Read: Melatonin Regulates Sleep

The midday nap is easily implemented, and it costs nothing,” says Liu. “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.”

The bottom line: the more students sleep during the day, the greater the benefit of naps on many of these measures.

Reference Jianghong Liu, Rui Feng, Xiaopeng Ji, Naixue Cui, Adrian Raine, Sara C Mednick. Midday napping in children: Associations between nap frequency and duration across cognitive, positive psychological well-being, behavioral, and metabolic health outcomes. Sleep, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/sleep/zsz126
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