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Napping During the Day Improves Brain Skills

Most people feel sleepy at some point during the day, but most resist the urge to drift off into dreamland. This could be a mistake. According to research, taking a brief nap during the day is a good idea. You will feel more refreshed, and a little siesta could help boost brain power and sharpen memory skills.

Napping improves brain skills

University of Berkeley researchers challenged a group of thirty-nine young adults to a tough learning task designed to give their memory skills a workout. Half the group took a ninety-minute nap two hours later while the other remained awake. Again, all the members were asked to learn a new set of learning skills.

Which group did better? The young adults who napped after the first learning task improved their brain and memory skills the second time, while the group who stayed awake had more learning and memory difficulties.

How does napping improve brain skills?

Researchers believe a nap during the day helps to clear out temporary memory storage areas of the brain so that new data can be stored more easily.

The hippocampus is the largest temporary memory storage area of the brain, which is like a way station where new information is held before it’s sent to more permanent brain storage areas. A nap during the day allows the hippocampus to clear out old data and send it to higher brain centers where it can be more permanently housed.

How long do you need to nap?

You don’t need to slumber long to get the benefits of a daytime nap. Some studies show a nap as short as twelve minutes boosts alertness and the ability to recall words.

Some experts had previously thought it was necessary to enter REM sleep to get the memory-boosting benefits of sleep. This study shows that memory is refreshed during stage two sleep, before most REM sleep and dreaming occur. Thus, you don’t need to nap for an extended period to get the brain benefits of sleep.

Nap for brain health

Don’t be afraid to nap if you have the chance. It could actually make you more productive. Just don’t sleep too long – thirty minutes is best – or you’ll end up groggy and have more difficulty sleeping at night.

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