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It seems as if sleep has taken the world by storm. Not a week goes by that a new finding is not reported in the media regarding the health or cognitive consequences of good or poor sleep. Here I present studies investigating the role of sleep in newly formed memories in infants, toddlers, and preschool children. Sleep and wake, both, contribute to generalization but for very different reasons in different periods of brain development. Our work has implications for understanding the impact of sleep on infant and child learning in language acquisition, as well as for mechanisms of memory formation at these ages, but more generally is the first to ask how learning unfolds over time as a function of sleep across changing neural structures in such young children. Our research also speaks to questions of practical importance such as whether learning time is more important than nap time in preschool and whether and when preschool children can safely transition out of naps.