Need to focus? Take a nap! From my favorite magazine, The Week:
The restorative power of naps
The boss might not buy it, but an early afternoon nap could indeed make you more productive, reports National Geographic News. Psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, gave two groups of adults a learning test designed to stimulate a part of the brain critical to short-term memory. At 2 p.m., two hours after taking the test, one group was allowed to nap for 90 minutes; the other continued to work. At 6 p.m., the test was administered again, and the group that had napped scored markedly better than the one that hadn’t napped.
The results suggest that sleep “reboots” the brain, helping to clear its short-term memory and shuttle key information into longer-term storage. “It’s as though the e-mail inbox is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you’re not going to receive any more mail,” says study author Matthew Walker. After napping, he says, you’re “ready to soak up new information.”
My favorite quote from the longer National Geographic News article: “When you have a problem, no one says you should ‘stay awake on it,’” he [researcher Matthew Walker] quipped.
We seem to accept that kids benefit from naps. But adult napping, especially in the workplace, is not encouraged, even though it helps adults learn better and get more stuff done.
I frequently use naps as a way to re-set and refresh my brain, and I’m glad to see this phenomenon being explored and recognized by the scientific community! Maybe this research will be a small step towards a more pro-nap culture.
(Photo courtesy of Mills Lawn School.)