Timely sleep facilitates declarative memory consolidation in infants

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Feb 3;112(5):1625-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1414000112. Epub 2015 Jan 12.


Human infants devote the majority of their time to sleeping. However, very little is known about the role of sleep in early memory processing. Here we test 6- and 12-mo-old infants' declarative memory for novel actions after a 4-h [Experiment (Exp.) 1] and 24-h delay (Exp. 2). Infants in a nap condition took an extended nap (≥30 min) within 4 h after learning, whereas infants in a no-nap condition did not. A comparison with age-matched control groups revealed that after both delays, only infants who had napped after learning remembered the target actions at the test. Additionally, after the 24-h delay, memory performance of infants in the nap condition was significantly higher than that of infants in the no-nap condition. This is the first experimental evidence to our knowledge for an enhancing role of sleep in the consolidation of declarative memories in the first year of life.

Keywords: daytime naps; deferred imitation; infant development; sleep-dependent memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Memory*
  • Sleep*