London - Parents whose toddlers are learning to talk should remember the importance of a nap.
A short sleep of about 90 minutes could help young children remember words better, a study suggests.
Researchers took 24 children with an average age of two and taught them made-up words such as "bope" and "dake".
Children who took a nap after learning the words remembered them better four hours later. This might be because "dreaming" sleep, known as REM sleep, helps the brain consolidate memories and absorb language.
The children, who were taught words like "wame" by using a computer game, were studied at home. Some had a nap shortly after the learning session while others stayed awake, according to findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor Jamie Edgin, of Arizona University, said: "Clinical trials often don’t consider sleep as an important factor.
"If we can show children learn differently when they nap, it shows how important healthy sleep really is."