It is often associated with stigmas such as laziness, lack of ambition and only for the children and elderly. But no, napping is natural among humans who are polyphasic sleepers. It means that they sleep for short periods throughout the day. But can this habit of napping really improve our memory?
In a study conducted by Researchers at Saarland University in Germany found that an hourlong nap improves memory performance fivefold, which was published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, the researchers tested the memory of 41 volunteers who had been asked to remember specific words and word pairs. Then, half of the participants took an hourlong nap while the others watched a DVD. Afterward, they were retested for their memory of the words.
Then, the researchers examined brain activity to determine how naps seemed to improve memory. The hippocampus- a brain legion known to play a role in memory consolidation — transfers learned information into memory storage after the information is learned. “The hippocampus, when awake, re-activates the neural firing pattern that was also active during learning,” Dr. Axel Mecklinger, a neuropsychologist at Saarland and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email. “This replay may produce ‘tags’ which are then used for consolidation during sleep. Electroencephalogram (EEG) tests revealed that the brain’s activity during sleep seems to supercharge the hippocampus’s ability to consolidate information.
Daytime naps can be considered as a way to treat sleep deprivation. It provides significant alertness and performance without making you feeling groggy or interfering your nighttime sleep. For short, it resets your system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. A short nap is usually recommended for short-term alertness. A 20-30 minutes of napping will do.
There are three types of napping.
- Planned napping (also called preparatory napping) involves taking a nap before you actually get sleepy. You may use this technique when you know that you will be up later than your normal bed time or as a mechanism to ward off getting tired earlier.
- Emergency napping occurs when you are suddenly very tired and cannot continue with the activity you were originally engaged in. This type of nap can be used to combat drowsy driving or fatigue while using heavy and dangerous machinery.
- Habitual napping is practiced when a person takes a nap at the same time each day. Young children may fall asleep at about the same time each afternoon or an adult might take a short nap after lunch each day.
Further information and benefits about cat napping:
What area the other benefits of napping? This includes reduced mistakes, road accidents, it also prevents burnout and information overload. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%. In terms of psychological benefits, a nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini vacation. It provides an easy way of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Some recent research has found that the right side of the brain is far more active during a nap than the left side, which stays fairly quiet while we’re asleep. Despite the fact that 95% of the population is right-handed, with the left side of their brains being the most dominant, the right side is consistently the more active hemisphere during sleep.
The study’s author, Andrei Medvedev, speculated that the right side of the brain handles ‘housekeeping’ duties while we’re asleep. The study looked at how active various parts of the brain were while participants were sleeping:
Medvedev and his colleagues used a type of brain imaging known as near-infrared spectroscopy, which involves placing optical fibers similar to electrodes symmetrically around a person’s scalp. These “optodes” send infrared light through the brain and measure how much light returns.
The intensity of light bouncing back provides an estimate of the blood flow in different regions of the brain. Blood flow, in turn, is an indicator of how active those regions are.
So while the left side of your brain takes some time off to relax, the right side is clearing out your temporary storage areas, pushing information into long-term storage, and solidifying your memories from the day.
Now if we can remember, our childhood memories may be full of elder people reminding us to take a nap during the afternoon that we stubbornly refuse. Now that we are young adults, we realize that nowadays, we badly need sleep. And if our sleep is deprived because of school works and stress, a cat nap is always there for you with good benefits of improving our memory which is beneficial for us.