Brain imaging has shown that when you’re napping, the left side of your brain takes time off to relax, while the right side clears out your temporary storage areas, pushes information into long-term storage, and solidifies your memories from the day.
Buffer compiled a list of studies that more or less say: take a nap today.
- Physical benefits. In a study of 23,681 Greek men over six years, participants who napped three times a week had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.
- Help us take in and retain information better. In one study, participants were asked to memorize illustrated cards. The group that napped retained 85 percent of the patterns, compared to 60 percent for those who remained awake. A study published last week provided the first evidence that daytime sleep is critical for effective learning in young children.
- Solidify memories. When memory is first recorded in the brain (specifically, the hippocampus), it can be easily forgotten. Napping pushes memories to the neocortex, the brain’s more permanent storage, preventing them from being overwritten.
- Clearing information out of your brain’s temporary storage areas gets it ready for new information to be absorbed. When study participants completed a challenging task around midday, by 6 p.m., the napping group performed better than those who didn’t nap.
- Help your brain recover from burnout or overload of information. College students who didn’t nap did worse and worse over the course of the day on a video activity. Students who took a 1-hour nap returned to their original performance levels in the next test.
- Ten to 15 minutes of sleep seems to be the optimum period in terms of improving mental operations, performance, reaction times, and alertness. That improvement is maintained for up to two, sometimes three, hours afterwards.
- A 60- to 90-minute nap could be as good as a full night’s sleep for learning a visual perception skill.
To get the most from your nap (and not wake up groggy and disoriented): learn how long it takes for you to fall asleep, avoid sleep inertia by not sleeping too long, choose the right time of day (when your energy levels are naturally decreased), and practice.
[Buffer via Fast Company]
Image: GollyGforce via Flickr