The majority of people feel a little 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, it’s a good idea to take a brief nap during the day. Not only will you feel more refreshed, but a little siesta could help boost brain power and sharpen memory skills.
Does a nap during the day improve 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. Two hours later, half of the group took a ninety minute nap, while the other group remained awake. Again, both groups 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 around, while the group who stayed awake had more learning and memory difficulties.
How does napping during the day improve brain skills and memory?
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 largest temporary memory storage area of the brain is the hippocampus – 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 provides an opportunity for the hippocampus to clear out old information and send it to higher centers of the brain where it can be more permanently housed.
How long do you need to nap during the day to boost memory?
To get the benefits of a daytime nap, you don’t need to slumber long. 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, but this study shows that memory is refreshed during stage two sleep – a stage before most REM sleep and dreaming takes place. Thus, you don’t need to nap for a long period of time to get the brain benefits of sleep.
Napping during the day 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.