Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite pastime is napping. In College, I would come back to my dorm room, and like clockwork, would take a nap. My best friend in England, who got quite a kick out of my passion for napping, once tried to persuade me to drink a cup of tea after lunch instead of taking my customary nap. I really tried, but I soon gave in to my nap cravings. Sometimes I feel like I really need to re-charge my brain batteries.
Well, now science is on my side. I just love this new study, which was presented by Matthew Walker, assistant professor at UC Berkeley, at the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in San Diego this past Sunday (Feb. 2010).
Walker and his colleagues Bryce A. Mander and Sangeetha Santhanam split up a batch of 39 healthy young adults into two groups. One group napped, the other did not.
At noon, both groups took a learning task thought to recruit the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain known to play an important role in the formation of new memories. Over the past few years, various researchers have found that fact-based memories are temporarily stored in the hippocampus before other regions of the brain can operate on the content, especially the regions of the brain responsible for higher-order reasoning and thinking. At this point in the experiment, both groups showed similar levels of performance.
Then, at 2pm, the nap group took a 90-minute nap while the no-nap group stayed awake, presumably watching the nap group enjoying their nap. After nap-time both groups then took more learning tests. The nappers did better on the tasks than those who stayed awake, demonstrating their higher capacity to learn. [Read more…] about Take that Nap! It May Boost Your Learning Capacity Among Other Good Things.