Are you feeling a bit guilty about your day-to-day nap? Don’t. Studies prove that catching a power snooze after lunch may boost your brain activity. But take note that the interval of your snooze matters.
Understanding Power Naps
Based on research printed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a 30 to 90-minutes nap seems to promote brain activities in older adults. However, any snooze beyond that period can result in severe issues with cognition and the ability to reason and form memories.
According to Charlene Gamaldo, a medical director at Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep Disorders, napping is a good thing. However, you should take it according to your context and your sleep and body cycles. She continues to say that, to older people, longer snoozes tend to affect cognition.
Nap for an Improved Memory Retention
Researchers from Saar-land University observed how quickly a one-hour nap affected the memory of 41 individuals. The participants had to learn particular phrases and word pairs. After completing the first learning phase, they were assessed to see how many words they could remember.
During the subsequent phase of the research, approximately half of the participants stayed awake. They watched a movie, while the others took a nap.
All the participants were reevaluated to see how many individual phrases and word pairs they could recall. The researchers found that those who took a power nap remembered better than those in the control group or the movie-watching group.
According to Axel Mecklinger of the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, a short 45 to 60-minute nap improves memory recovery by five times.
Researchers noted that partakers in the power snooze group didn’t necessarily perform better on memory retention tests after snoozes than they did instantly after studying. However, the performance remained constant, while the control and movie watching group performed significantly poorer in the subsequent memory test.
Even though the researchers say that taking a nap boosts your memory, never confuse a power snooze with a microsleep. Microsleep refers to a short, uncontrollable sleep period of less than one second to ten seconds. Such an episode can occur when you are exhausted, but you have been trying to stay awake. These episodes might be risky in case they happen when you are driving.
Problems Caused by Longer Naps
Lengthier naps may pose issues which include:
- Temporary drowsiness: Individuals who take more prolonged naps might feel dizzy right after waking up. Since they sleep more, they tend to awaken from a greater sleep stage, which happens late in the phase, and make them feel confused.
- Lack of proper sleep at night: Patients who tend to take long snoozes in the day experience insomnia during the night. In such cases, you might consider limiting your nap time if you have insomnia or taking over 30 minutes to drop off.
It seems people who get too much or microsleep can have ill-health and even shorter lives. Therefore, people should get the right amount and quality of rest. Also, we can see that power naps helps in boosting brain activity.