According to historians, German-American theoretical physicist Albert Einstein took frequent naps. (Einstein was a napper.)
Einstein may or may not have known it was good for him but new research out from the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, found that there are many mental benefits from taking a midday nap.
U.S. psychologist Matthew P.Walker was the study's lead researcher.
Dr. Walker, of the UCB Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, stated, 'Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but ... it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap.' [FoxNews (2.22.10): 'Taking an afternoon nap makes you smarter, study finds']
Walker presented the conclusions of the study on Sunday, February 21, at the 2010 Annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference held between February 18 and 22, 2010, in San Diego, California.
Dr. Walker stated at the conference, "Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness, but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap." [BBC News (2-21-10): 'Nap 'boosts' brain learning power']
Page two continues with more comments from Dr. Walker.
Dr. Walker continued his comments with, "It's as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full, and, until you sleep and clear out all those fact e-mails, you're not going to receive any more mail. It's just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder."
The U.S. researchers studied 39 healthy young adults. They were divided into two groups, one group (that numbered 20) took a 90-to-100-minute nap at 2 p.m. local time and the other group (19 members) did not take a nap.
Both groups were given a difficult task to perform in the morning that required them to remember faces and link them with names.
Then the nap group went off at 2 p.m. for some sleep, while the other group stayed awake.
Then, after the one group woke up, both groups of subjects were told to perform a series of cognitive (memory) tests and exercises.
Another round of memory exercises were performed by the participants at 6 p.m. local time.
Page three concludes.
The researchers found the group that did not have a nap performed worse as the day progressed. The group that slept in the afternnoon performed better as the day went on.
In fact, Walker stated that the napping group performed about 10% better than the non-napping group.
They think that the conclusion of their study shows that the brain needs time to rest in order to process short-term memories and to create spots where future memories and learned information can be stored.
An afternoon is beneficial to all people, the researchers stated. Walker added, 'The brain's ability to soak up information is not always stable. It seems as though the brain's capacity may be a little like a sponge. It may get waterlogged with continued learning throughout the day." [BusinessWeek.com (2.21.10): 'Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter']