45-minute power nap can boost memory five-fold
Provided you can remember to do it, a power nap of just 45 minutes could boost memory by five times.
According to researchers, a short doze helps you to retain information you have learned and “significantly” improves recall, meaning, for example, that naps could help students preparing for exams.
Participants in Germany’s Saarland University study learned 90 single words and 120 unconnected word pairs such as “milk taxi.”
Part of the group went on to take a brief nap while the rest watched a DVD.
According to a report in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, those who had slept remembered more word pairs when they were then retested.
The Saarland University researchers explained that during sleep, bursts of brain activity known as “sleep spindles” play an important role in consolidating newly learned information.
A nap of just 45 minutes to an hour “produces a five-fold improvement in information retrieval from memory,” said Professor Axel Mecklinger.
“The memory performance of the participants who had a power nap was just as good as it was before sleeping, that is, immediately after completing the learning phase.
“Strictly speaking, memory performance did not improve in the nap group relative to the levels measured immediately after the learning phase, but they did remain constant,” he noted.
“A short nap at the office or in school is enough to significantly improve learning success. Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep,” the professor added.
“A concentrated period of learning followed by a short relaxing sleep is all that’s needed.”