Why Playing is Just as Important as Sleep

The science behind fun and games

Special Collections: PLAY LIKE A KID


Animals playing.

(Rich Orman / Shutterstock.com)

Play - an activity usually reserved for children, right? Well, not if you ask the National Institute of Play (NIFP). The nonprofit, spearheaded by Dr. Stuart Brown, is dedicated to researching and promoting how vital play is to the lives of animals and people of all ages. If you’re a bit rusty on the rules of recreation, the NIFP outlines the patterns of play which range from storytelling to rough housing with friends.
Dr. Brown, who elaborates on his research in this TED talk, discovered the importance of play when studying young males who had committed violent crimes. He noted that a common factor among the men was a lack of recreation in their developing years. Combining that with research on playful behaviors in the animal kingdom, the NIFP views play as a hardwired need, similar to that of sleep, that is required for healthy emotional development, socialization, and physical movement. 
To spread this playful message, the NIFP takes the essence of fun and games to
schools and companies, instructing them how to better integrate play into their environments - resulting in more creative and happier students and employees.

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