Confession: I'm A Napper

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It's true- I LOVE to take naps. I think it comes from my dad, who has always been a napper. My mom used to joke that he could sleep anywhere- on a bus, at a party, etc. The naps never had to be long, but they were (and still are) always a crucial part of his day. These days I'm just like him. That's why I was interested to read a new study that claims and afternoon nap might refresh the brain's capacity to learn, making you smarter.

I remember in the days before I had kids, I would come home from work and sleep for at least 30 minutes before starting on dinner or heading out for a workout. Since having children, scheduling my nap has gotten a little trickier. Fortunately my kids take naps at the same time, so I get at least an hour to myself in the afternoon. And honestly, the first thing I always do is take a nap. I only need 15 or 20 minutes to get me through the rest of the day. But the late afternoon and early evening is often a little rough if I don't get my few minutes of shut-eye.

New research is raising the idea that a long afternoon nap (100 minutes) prepares the brain to remember things. Researchers divided study participants into two groups. Both participated in a memory exercise at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. One group took a 100-minute nap during the break, while the other group did not. The group that didn't nap performed an average of 10 percent worse on the memory exercise at 6 p.m.

The researchers concluded that a phase of non-dreaming sleep the nappers went through improved their memories. They also said that it is important to sleep long enough to give the brain an opportunity to go through the various sleep cycles, because memory boosts happened during certain cycles but not others.

I don't know many people who have 100 minutes of free time to nap in the middle of the day. In fact, I find that if I sleep too long, I end up feeling more tired than I did before I lay down. So 15 or 20 minutes is just right for me.

Are you a napper? How long do your naps typically last? Do you find that they make you more productive for the rest of the day?