Objective: Executive attention is impaired following sleep loss in school-aged children, adolescents, and adults. Whether naps improve attention relative to nap deprivation in preschool-aged children is unknown. The aim of this study was to compare executive attention in preschool children following a nap and an interval of wake.
Method: Sixty-nine children, 35-70 months of age, completed a Flanker task to assess executive attention following a nap and an equivalent interval of wake.
Results: Overall, accuracy was greater after the nap compared with the wake interval. Reaction time(s) did not differ between the nap and wake intervals. Results did not differ between children who napped consistently and those who napped inconsistently, suggesting that naps benefit executive attention of preschoolers regardless of nap habituality.
Conclusions: These results indicate that naps enhance attention in preschool children. As executive attention supports executive functioning and learning, nap promotion may improve early education outcomes.
Keywords: executive attention; naps; preschool; sleep.
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