Go Ahead–Take a Nap

brainAs if any of us need an excuse. A study by Saarland University confirms what physiology and psychology—and perhaps your own experience—has told us. A power nap is beneficial. This study suggests that that 60-minute snooze may improve memory performance.

The Brain on a Nap

The researchers considered the effects of a nap on memory recall of single words and word pairs on 41 participants. Between learning the task, participants either napped or watched a DVD. The results showed that those who napped maintained memory of hippocampus-dependent memories. The DVD group’s performance declined significantly.

The hippocampus is a part of your brain that helps you learn new memories, both short and long-term. The brief respite offered by a nap helped maintain memories of learned tasks as evidenced by performance.

No Shame in Napping

The research seemed to support the notion of the afternoon nap. Unfortunately, napping carries a lot of baggage. It’s something we associate with the very young or the very old, not something that healthy adults engage in. But if it helps with learning and retaining, it certainly deserves better recognition for its mental health benefits.

There is, after all, no shame in napping. Just because you’re asleep, it doesn’t mean that your brain is inactive. A lot goes on under the proverbial hood. We get in trouble with remembering things when we are bombarded with too much information and too many tasks.

For the writer, this research is a good thing. If you’re trying to work out a scene in your head, maybe a nap would be just the thing to get the creative juices flowing, as it were. You may be better able to remember where you’re going with your plot.

The takeaway message is that rest is essential. It helps us perform better in all tasks, including memory performance. For individuals who depend upon words for a living, this study makes power naps all that more special.

http://mystery.weborglodge.com/By Chris DR

photo credit: Image from page 636 of “Human physiology” (1856) via photopin (license)