German researchers have published a study claiming that quick naps can help the brain process and retain information. Not that you need an excuse to fall asleep at your desk every afternoon.
Naps are, according to most reputable sources, the greatest thing that can possibly happen between the hours of 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. But did you know they are also good for helping you remember things?
A group of scientists thinks that taking a short nap after learning information speeds up the process by which information is retained. In an experiment, the researchers had two groups of people memorize one set of illustrated cards, and then, after a 40 minute interval, learn another set of cards.
Both groups were then tested on the first set. As you might imagine, one group napped during the break, while the other stayed awake. And guess what? The lazy, sleepy group did better:
Much to the surprise of the researchers, the sleep group performed significantly better, retaining on average 85 percent of the patterns, compared to 60 percent for those who had remained awake.
"Reactivation of memories had completely different effects on the state of wakefulness and sleep," said lead author Susanne Diekelmann, also from the University of Lubeck.
Why? Research indicates that when memory is first recorded in the brain—in the hippocampus, to be specific—it's still "fragile" and easily forgotten, especially if the brain is asked to memorize more things. Napping, it seems, pushes memories to the neocortex, the brain's "more permanent storage," preventing them from being "overwritten."
So, there you have it: Instead of studying for hours on end, just take a nap. In fact, maybe you should take a nap right now! So that you remember this post.