Napping and the Brain

Sleep has been known to be an important component to brain function and memory for some time. A recent study on sleep and learning conducted by Dr. Walker, University of California Berkeley provides further support.

The study involved 39 healthy young persons who were placed into a nap or no nap group. At noon, all subjects completed a memory task intended to engage the hippocampus, a region deep in the medial temporal lobe responsible for learning new fact based information. Both groups performed equally on this test.

At 2pm, the nap group took a 90 minute nap while the no-nap group did not. At 6pm of that day, subjects completed a new memory task. Those who remained awake throughout the day performed worse on the task while those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.

Some scientists suggest the human animal is designed to sleep in bouts rather than one long period of time which supports taking naps. About 30% of Americans nap during the mid-day. The study’s results support the idea that sleep clears the brain’s short-term memory storage and creates the ability for new information to be learned. Napping may serve as a type of “rebooting” process, particularly when nappers enter stage two of their natural sleep cycle.

Results are preliminary and further research will be done to support these findings. However, scientists continue to help understand the sleep and its critical role in memory and brain health.

Sweet dreams!

5 thoughts on “Napping and the Brain”

  1. I’ve taken a nap most of my adult life simply because my body needed it to function.

    My husband seldom napped and now has Alzheimer’s. I don’t.

    We’re in our 80’s. Nothing scientific about this anecdote, of course, but I’m glad to hear the scientists continue to study sleep and it’s role in brain health.

  2. yaaaawn.It’s only 11:00am and I’m ready for a nap. Having a brain injury due to an aneurysm, I found that a nap is essential to rehab[ if I remember to take it,..seriously].

  3. I’ve slept poorly at night ever since I had kids. Maternal instinct? Tried not napping,exercise,yadayada…Short brisk walk w/ a followup nap is the best! TO Says: Prayers for your recovery

  4. I too had an aneurysm, never napped before the experience. Now I nap every day around 2 pm. I can fight off the feeling, but pay heavily the next day. I’ve learned to listen to my body and do the necessary. Some doctors say go for a walk, ignore it, I now say listen to your body when it talks to you.

  5. After having a undiagnosed bleed in the brain, for 2 years, my rehabilitation has been based upon the needs of my body and brain. Therefore, in the first 2 years or more, I napped twice a day or more, because I needed it.
    Today, after 9 years, I continue to nap once a day unsually 90-120 minutes. I often feel like I could sleep all the time, is this common?
    Can you suggest the reccomended time of day, or hours after being awake?
    I also have, ADD, PTSD, Chronic Pain, TMJ, Anxiety & Deppression. I attend a Mental Health Group for Support & have just begun a Social Group, that has sprung off from that.

    I am very pleased to have found your web-site and will incorporate these puzzles/games into my ongoing re-hab.
    Anida Doherty
    Oshawa, ON, Canada

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