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Midday Naps Make Us Smarter

Sleep ApneaStudy Shows Adults Who Nap Learn Better, Perform Better – Have you ever taken a nap on the weekend after lunch, about mid afternoon? How did you feel afterwards?  Midday Naps Make Us Smarter. Would rejuvenated be the right word?  Studies are now being conducted that prove what many of us have known for years. We have not been able to practice because of time constraints and pressure at work as well as in our everyday life.  It is not usually until we retire, that we have the time to really try out the mid day nap routine. We find out just how great it can be, not only for our well being, but also our intelligence as well.

When we are working and raising a family there is just no time at work during lunch hour to even think about a mid day nap. In fact many people do not even take a full 60 minutes for their lunch. If  they do they are running errands trying to keep up with all of their personal requirements. And who would even think about taking a nap at work around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. That would be grounds for being fired. Yet there is mounting evidence that taking a nap in the early afternoon contributes to increased energy. Also increased intelligence and alertness for people needing to contribute to their company’s success. Midday Naps Make Us Smarter, they just do!

Midday Naps Make Us Smarter – Retired?

What retired people have known for years and newly retired people quickly learn is that they feel so much better after taking a mid day nap. They awake refreshed and ready to take on additional complex tasks after even a 20 minute nap in the afternoon. What can people who are working and often sleep deprived from dealing with the kids and other personal issues do to take advantage of this powerful opportunity?

Long distance drivers, whether they are truckers or vacationers, can also benefit from a nap at critical times during their driving trips.  Stopping for 20 or 30 minutes. Taking a fast nap can make a huge difference in their alertness and ability to drive carefully and safely. Many accidents occur every year from drivers falling asleep behind the wheel. Stop, take a nap and avoid a major accident.

Midday Naps Make Us Smarter – Places you Can Nap

If you drive to work, catching 20 minutes of sleep in your car is an excellent way to grab a nap at lunch time. Just make sure you have an alarm clock with you so that you do not sleep longer than you need.  Grab a conf room for a quick nap. However just make sure that it is reserved and that your secretary is aware. You can use your office for the same purpose as long as you can close the door and the blinds. It is much tougher for those people working in cubicles. You will need to find a quiet secluded place where you can grab 40 winks without being disturbed of thought to be a little kooky. Always have an alarm clock with you. Cell phones are usually great devices for this sort of thing with a built in alarm function.

Memory and learning capabilities are also improved, but harder to document.  The amount of sleep we get both in the evening as well as in what I like to call power naps can help us with memory and also learning new tasks and following instructions.

Nappers Perform Better

The following comments and statements have been contributed by Matthew Walker, PhD. He discusses some of the issues that his study brought to light regarding these two topics.

Nappers performed better than non-nappers on a test, says study researcher Matthew Walker. He is a PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley. He presented his findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

The brain’s ability to learn information is not stable across the day. The area of the brain that stores memories may get ”clogged up” as the day goes on. Akin to a full email in-box on your computer, he says.

Napping at midday, when the brain’s ability to learn may have deteriorated may clear the brain’s memory storage area and make room for new information, Walker says.

Nap or No Nap: The Study

Walker and his colleagues gave 39 healthy young adults, average age 21, a difficult learning task. It was intended to tax the brain’s hippocampus. A region that helps store memories based on fact. The test — learning 100 face-name pairs and then matching them up — was given at noon.

Then, at 2 p.m., the nap group was given the chance for a 90-minute siesta. The no-nap group was asked to stay awake.

At 6 p.m., Walker gave them the test again. “People in the group which didn’t nap had a slight reduction of about 10% in their learning capacity during the day. Whereas the people who had a nap in between the first time they tried to learn relative to the second time they tried to learn actually improved their ability to learn by 10%.”

The total time the participants slept during the 90-minute window didn’t matter much in their later performance, Walker found. But the greater the amount of stage 2 non-REM sleep, a lighter form of non-dreaming sleep, the better their performance, he found.

Naps and Learning: Implications

The study results suggest that sleep before learning may be important, too. Just as experts have known that sleep after learning is crucial to solidify information learned, Walker says.

In previous research, Walker and others found that fact-based memories are stored temporarily in the brain’s hippocampus. Then sent to the area known as the prefrontal cortex — which he suspects has more storage space.

”Perhaps what happens is that the hippocampus is actually the short-term way station for memory in the brain”. The hippocampus is good at getting hold of information. But at some point needs to ”download” the information to the pre-frontal cortex, he says.

The nap before learning may help clear out the hippocampus and send the data on to the prefrontal cortex, allowing new information to soak in, Walker says.


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