Kids who don’t sneak out of their beds to avoid their daily siesta may have it better than most of their peers, as TIME reports that those little catnaps may hold the secret to improving children’s mental performance.

In a study led by Rebecca Spencer, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, researchers asked 40 preschoolers to play a memory game, wherein they had to match covered photos with their twin pair. After playing the game, the children were allowed to nap for 77 minutes before going for another round. The following week, they were asked to play once more minus the nap.

The results showed that doing the game without snoozing lowered the kids’ accuracy by 10 percent.

Scientists say that it is during sleep that the brain processes new information and “files” them accordingly in order for the hippocampus, the brain’s short-term memory bank, to work with new data. As it is during their preschool years when kids learn the most, it becomes highly important for them to have ample time for rest. Those naps that many parents might take for granted may actually affect their children’s brain development in the long run.

So give your kids time to nap within the day, and make sure that they get enough sleep at night. After all, learning doesn’t end after homework; it goes on even after they’ve closed their eyes.

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(Photo by Emran Kassim via Flickr Creative Commons)

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