To Get Smarter, Take a Nap
Sleeping for 90 minutes at midday boosts the brain's ability to learn
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2010 4:02 PM CST
Taking a 90-minute nap after lunch can improve your capacity to learn.   (?Sarah G...)
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(Newser) – Taking a nap after lunch helps the brain "reset" and prepare to assimilate new information, researchers say. "It's as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you're not going to receive any more mail," says the author of a new study. "It's just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder."

Humans naturally sleep twice or more in 24 hours, and napping fits that pattern. In a study of 39 subjects, half took a 90-minute nap at 2pm while the rest stayed awake. The groups performed comparably on a test administered at noon, but the nappers significantly outscored the non-nappers on a 6pm exam. Next up: determining the link between changing sleep patterns related to age and the concurrent drop in the ability to absorb new information.