Can laying down for a wee nap in the afternoon make you smarter? New research seems to say yes. Having a midday nap may improve your brain's learning capacity.
"Nappers performed better than non-nappers on a test, says study researcher Matthew Walker, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley. He presented his findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego."
The study reports that people did 10 percent better on a test after having a 90 minute nap in the afternoon, while people who didn't sleep had a drop of 10 percent.
It seems that it's not so much the amount of sleep as the kind of sleep that makes the difference. Stage 2 non-REM sleep, which is a light form of non-dreaming sleep, appears to be a key to better performance.
Sleeping before learning also seems to make a difference. It is possible that this sleep period may send data from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex.