Monday, July 05, 2010

Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter

(HealthDay News) -- Want to ace that next test? Try taking a mid-afternoon siesta.

While the findings are preliminary, new research raises the prospect that sleep, specifically a lengthy afternoon nap, prepares the brain to remember things. Think of it as similar to rebooting a computer to get it to work more smoothly.

"Sleep is not just for the body. It's very much for the brain," said study author Matthew Walker, an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Walker and colleagues divided 39 young adults into two groups. At noon, all the participants took part in a memory exercise that required them to remember faces and link them with names. Then the researchers took part in another memory exercise at 6 p.m., after 20 had napped for 100 minutes during the break.

Those who remained awake performed about 10 percent worse on the tests than those who napped, Walker said.

There's one more twist: People's ability to learn declines about 10 percent between noon and 6 p.m. normally, but the nappers were able to negate that decline.

The structure of the study suggests that a phase of non-dreaming sleep that the nappers went through is boosting memory, he said. Read more...
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