RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Remember when you were younger and dreaded nap time? Most of us adults would give anything to get tucked in every afternoon for a restful siesta, but such rests are a luxury few schedules can afford. Now researchers at the University of California–Berkeley offer some justification for squeezing some shut-eye into your day: Taking a nap can refresh your brain, and increase your ability to learn new information.
THE DETAILS: In the study, university psychologists tested the effects of a “biphasic” sleep schedule on 39 young adults. To do so, researchers had all study participants complete a learning task at noon. They then divided the participants into two groups: one that took a 90-minute nap after the learning task, and one that stayed awake for the rest of the afternoon. When the participants were asked to try another learning task at 6 p.m., the group that had rested performed significantly better than their no-nap counterparts, and seemed to learn more. "Our results suggest that the capacity of the brain to learn facts is improved by sleep," explains Matt Walker, PhD, and lead researcher in the study. "Sleep both before and after learning has been shown to improve memory—before, to get your brain ready for learning, and after, to solidify what you have just learned. Thus, proper sleeping habits are critical."
Read on to find out how napping can boost your brainpower.