Tell your boss - Naps renew energy, build brain

May 31, 2009 9:27:29 AM PDT
Do you take naps? Studies show catching a few Z's during the day is good for your health and mind.

Sarah Raifsnider says napping helps her keep up with the demands of college.

"If I know I have to study for a test, I'll usually nap for 20 minutes before, and then I'm ready to restart my day," she says

Her school, the University of California San Diego, is all for it.

In fact, the school recently held its first "nap-in."

Jerry Phelps, Ph.D, the university's wellness director, says "It was a success among students and staff and faculty."

Phelps says the college is trying to change the perception that nappers are lazy, or sleeping on the job.

He says, "We want to make napping a positive in our culture and so we're making UC San Diego a nap positive environment."

"That's the goal - really to bring napping to the people!" says leader researcher Srah Mednick, Ph.D., with a laugh.

Mednick isn't just a fan of napping.

She wrote a book on it, and says research proves it can keep you more alert than coffee.

"We compared naps to caffeine on 3 different kinds of memory tests. And we find that naps made people perform better and caffeine made people perform much worse even than placebo," she says.

And to get the napping benefits, experts say you might not even need to sleep.

Mednick says, "In some cases, we're showing that sleep is actually the active process that's helping your brain learn. And in other cases, it appears that it's not necessarily sleep, but it's the lack of doing something. So even something like meditation or sitting quietly can be as helpful."

And Mednick has this tip -

A 20-minute nap can boost a student's memory for historical dates.

But if you have to remember larger historical concepts, you may need a 90 minute snooze.

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