Brain fried? Take a nap!

Taking a nap might just be the smartest thing you can do for your brain. So says Alex

Mecklinger and his colleagues, who found significant results when they conducted a study on napping that was published in the journal, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

The researchers found that even a short sleep lasting 45 to 60 minutes improved information retrieval from memory five-fold!

It was quite a simple experiment: participants studied single words and word pairs, and were tested straight away to see how much they had learned. Then, one group napped and the other watched a DVD, and they were re-tested. The group that slept aced the test. The group that watched DVDs ... not so much.

Research from the University of California says that napping can also help learning. A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science in 2010 got participants to perform an intense learning activity. Again, they were split into two groups, with one sleeping for an hour and a half, and the other staying awake. They were put through another intense learning exercise, approximately six hours after the first one.

The group that stayed awake were worse at learning the new material than on the previous task. And the group that slept not only outperformed their peers who stayed awake. They even improved their learning ability.

So what, now what? Those studies used quite long nap times – some might even call 45 to 90 minutes a sleep. And not everyone has time to build that kind of nap habit into his or her day. But a quick 10 to 30 minute nap can improve both your energy and alertness. We could all use an extra dose of both as the year winds down, so be sure to grab a power nap at every opportunity.