The Importance of Naps
When I saw the topic of this latest study, my first response was, “Hooray!” I love naps. After a satisfying lunch, on a beautiful afternoon or in that “low-energy” spot at about three, nothing revitalizes me like a good, short nap. Now, a new study out of Germany suggests that short naps in the afternoon help memory recall.
Medical Daily reports:
Power naps influence memory recall, according to a new study out Saarland University in Germany.
Researchers cited studies that have shown short naps (about an hour) can positively influence memory performance. But, they wanted to better understand the role naps play in both associative and item memory. The American Psychological Association defines associative memory (AM) as “the ability to learn and remember the relationship between unrelated items, such as the name of someone we have just met.” Item memory (IM), on the other hand, refers to the ability to recall items, such as the names of friends, phone numbers, even an ATM password.
This study showed that after napping, AM memory improved. This improved memory may be due to “sleep spindles” that help consolidate memory during sleep.
There are many reasons that individuals can benefit from a nap. The Mayo Clinic suggests that healthy adults can gain great benefit from napping, including: relaxation, alertness, decreased fatigue, improved mood, better memory, and even improved post-nap performance. The best place to take a nap is somewhere dark and quiet, for a duration of about 15-30 minutes, but no more than an hour. Naps in the early to mid-afternoon are less likely to impede nighttime sleep patterns than after-work napping.
If you find yourself losing steam in the middle of the afternoon or becoming a little foggy and slow, don’t reach for the coffee or sugary snacks, take a nap instead. It will not only help you feel better short term, but there may be longer-term health benefits.