I don't know about you, but I've been mourning the loss of afternoon naptime ever since preschool graduation. That is why I was excited to read about new research from the UC Berkeley showing that a post-lunch snooze can boost the brain's learning capacity.
In the study, researchers divided 39 healthy adults into two groups-nap and no-nap. Each day at noon participants were given a challenging test designed to exhaust the brain's hippocampus, a region that helps store memories based on fact. Following the test, the nap group was allowed to sleep for 90 minutes while the others were kept awake. Both groups were tested again at 6 p.m. The researchers found:
Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn. These findings reinforce the hypothesis that sleep is needed to clear the brain's short-term memory storage and make room for new information.
Similarly, a Stanford study in 2006 showed daily naps for health-care workers resulted in improved performance and productivity.