Style & ShowbizHealth

Naps boost brain power

HealthBy Sunday World
Naps boost brain power

Disco nap, power nap, quick snooze... whatever term you use, who doesn't like a short sleep now and again? Whether you're preparing for a big night out or just resting your eyes while on the sofa, a nap is sometimes just the thing you need. Well now you can rest with ease because new research has found that a 45 minute nap can boost memory by five times.

Scientists from Germany's Saarland University found short bursts of sleep helps people retain information learned, and significantly improves recall. Good news for students who are struggling through revision!

The team of experts split a group of participants into two factions and made each learn 90 single words and 120 unconnected word pairs such as 'milk taxi'. One group then watched a DVD while the other slept.

The groups were then tested on the words, and those who slept remembered more word pairs.

The results have been published in journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, with researchers commenting sleep spindles (bursts of brain activity during sleep) play an important role in consolidating newly learned information.

Professor Axel Mecklinger reveals a nap of just 45 minutes to an hour produces a five-fold memory boost.

"The memory performance of the participants who had a power nap was just as good as it was before sleeping, that is, immediately after completing the learning phase.

"Strictly speaking, memory performance did not improve in the nap group relative to the levels measured immediately after the learning phase, but they did remain constant," he said.

"A short nap at the office or in school is enough to significantly improve learning success. Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep. Enhancing information recall through sleeping doesn't require us to stuff bulky tomes under our pillow. A concentrated period of learning followed by a short relaxing sleep is all that's needed."

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