Babies that get most of their sleep during the night seem to have better cognitive skills than babies that sleep more in the day, reports Time.
These results added to earlier evidence that early childhood sleep plays an important role in the development of cognitive processes.
The researchers found babies that slept more through the night at 12 months and 18 months did better on function tasks when they were 26 months. Researchers did note the amount of night-time awakenings didn’t affect the overall results, but did point out this could be because babies can self-soothe and go back to sleep without being noticed by their parents.
The study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Montreal followed just 60 babies from 12 months to 26 months, so we advise you don’t panic about your poor sleeper just yet!
For the study, at 12-13 months and again at 18 months, the mums were asked to keep a diary of their child’s sleep pattern every half hour across three consecutive days. At 18 months and again at 26 months, the toddlers took part in various functioning tests, with a working memory test at 18 months and an impulse control test at 26 months.
Overall, the more sleep babies got during the night, the better they did in tests.
“These results raise the possibility that infant sleep affects developing brain structures [associated with higher-order cognitive processes] in the first two years of life,” said an author from the study.
The study was published in the November/December edition of the Journal of Child Development.