Wake up at the back, because we’ve got good news for you. Yet another research program has come up with the conclusion that a daytime nap is good for your brain.
It’s still frowned upon in most workplaces and of course it’s a no-no to get your head down and snooze through a lecture or tutorial. But this latest study from Saarland University in Germany claims that a nap of 45 to 60 minutes can boost memory and learning capacity by as much as fivefold.
It comes hot on the heels of a British study released in January, conducted on infants, which concluded that a 30 minute sleep within four hours of completing a learning task boosted their memory significantly. This latest survey makes the same claim for adults.
The participants were shown a list of 120 word pairs. These pairs were deliberately chosen so they would have little or no meaning or association, such as ‘milk – taxi’.
Immediately after seeing the list, the group was given a memory recall test. Then half the group were asked to sleep for 90 minutes while the other half watched a DVD.
The sleeping group had their brain impulses monitored, with the researchers watching out especially in the hippocampus part of the brain, where memory is consolidated.
After the break, all the participants took the same memory recall test and the sleepers did five times better than the DVD watchers.
Of course, it could be argued that the sleepers only did better because they had experienced less distractions between the two tests. That was why the brain monitoring was important, because it showed that during their nap, their hippocampus areas were especially active, with something the researchers call ‘sleep spindles’ working hard to store the recent memories.