Source: BBC News
When her daughter was preschool-aged, Rebecca Spencer experienced something familiar to many parents and childminders: the power of a nap. Without it, her daughter would be giddy, grumpy, or both.
Spencer, a neuroscientist focusing on sleep at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wanted to investigate the science behind this anecdotal experience. “The observation of a lot of people is that a napless kid is emotionally dysregulated,” she says. “So that spurred us to ask this question of, ‘Do naps actually do something to process emotions?’”
Research has already shown that, in general, sleep helps us make sense of emotions. Sleep plays a key role in encoding information based on experiences from the day, making sleep critical for preserving memories. And emotional memories are unique because of the way they activate the amygdala, the brain’s emotional core.
“Amygdala activation is what allows your wedding day and the funeral of your parents to be a day better remembered, more than just any other day of work,” Spencer says.