Role of Napping for Learning across the Lifespan

Curr Sleep Med Rep. 2020 Dec;6(4):290-297. doi: 10.1007/s40675-020-00193-9. Epub 2020 Nov 12.


Purpose of review: Napping is a common behavior across age groups. While studies have shown a benefit of overnight sleep on memory consolidation, given differences in nap frequency, composition, and intent, it is important to consider whether naps serve a memory function across development and aging.

Recent findings: We review studies of the role of naps in declarative, emotional, and motor procedural memory consolidation across age groups. Recent findings in both developmental and aging populations find that naps benefit learning of many tasks but may require additional learning or sleep bouts compared to young adult populations. These studies have also identified variations in nap physiology based on the purpose of the nap, timing of the nap, or age.

Summary: These studies lend to our understanding of the function of sleep, and the potential for naps as an intervention for those with reduced nighttime sleep or learning impairments.

Keywords: aging; cognition; development; memory; naps; sleep.