Parents Education League of Los Angeles

Sleeping & Learning Connection

Sleeping Like a Baby, Learning at Warp Speed

“We don’t help kids learn by extending homework late into the night.”

PEL Parents take note… this latest article in the Wall Street Journal by Alison Gropnik brings to light the results of 2006 research on babies and a paper published just this month on 8-11 years olds and adults.  Read on and then put those kids to bed!

Excerpt regarding 8-11 years olds:

Just this month, a paper by Ines Wilhelm at the University of Tübingen and colleagues showed that older children also learn in their sleep. In fact, they learn better than grown-ups. They showed 8-to-11-year-olds and adults a grid of eight lights that lit up over and over in a particular sequence. Half the participants saw the lights before bedtime, half saw them in the morning. After 10 to 12 hours, the experimenters asked the participants to describe the sequence. The children and adults who had stayed awake got about half the transitions right, and the adults who had slept were only a little better. But the children who had slept were almost perfect—they learned substantially better than either group of adults.
There was another twist. While the participants slept, they wore an electronic cap to measure brain activity. The children had much more “slow-wave sleep” than the adults—that’s an especially deep, dreamless kind of sleep. And both children and adults who had more slow-wave sleep learned better.
Children may sleep so much because they have so much to learn (though toddlers may find that scant consolation for the dreaded bedtime). It’s paradoxical to try to get children to learn by making them wake up early to get to school and then stay up late to finish their homework.
Sleeping Like a Baby, Learning at Warp Speed by WSJ, Mind & Matter: Alison Gropnik