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Study shows REM sleep for young children promotes memory retention

Getting enough quality sleep is a vital element for a child's development. Just how important rapid eye moment (REM) sleep is for children, however, has been previously unknown until a recent study found that an enzyme activated during REM sleep promotes the retention of memories and waking experiences in a developing brain. 

The findings were recently published in Science Advances and show that the neural pathways in the brain change as a person has new experiences, yet a needed amount of REM sleep is required to hold these experiences in his or her memory. Tech Times reports that one of the researchers explained that the enzyme called Extracellular-regulated kinases (ERK) is released during REM sleep, which makes the retaining of memories possible.

Furthermore, the study suggests that REM also helps developing brains adapt to the surge of neuronal networks during the crucial periods of plasticity and remodeling in a young child's brain, which then allows the child to equalize what he or she receives from his or her surroundings. This crucial period is when many developmental skills such as vision and cognition are formed. 

The researchers stated that their conclusions will be influential in future studies on children's sleeping patterns. Many studies already state that sleeping can affect a child's school performance, while this report may be able to provide the reasons behind this correlation as well as present further proof for adults to be mindful of sleep restrictions for young children. 

For those interested in learning more about brain development in children, ProSolutions Training offers online child care training courses to help you become equipped for teaching and caring for children.