• The Science Behind What Naps Do For Your Brain–And Why You Should Have One Today

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    See on Scoop.itNerve Health

    Studies of napping have shown improvement in cognitive function creative thinking and memory performance. Ready set . . . snooze.

     

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    Dr Rajshekher‘s insight:

    Do you take cat naps during the day? I do: it helps me improve my thinking, concentration and memory for the rest of the day, not to speak of behaviour, mood, and performance. Here is some scientific information to support your pet activity!

    See on m.fastcompany.com

    More than 85% of mammals are something called “Polyphasic Sleepers” – which means that they sleep in short stretches at a time throughout the day; you may have seen your dog do that, or your cat – especially your cat!

    The Biological Clock

    Sleeping cat collage

    Humans, on the other hand, have something called a ‘circadian rhythm’ – meaning that we have day – night cycle that is more – or – less hard – wired into our brains. This so – called ‘Biological Clock‘ dictates our sleep – wake cycle, so that we sleep at night and wake in the day.
    A small minority of mammals like Human Beings are ‘monophasic sleepers’ – so they have this pattern of sleeping during the night and waking during the day. But you cannot assume from this that this is the natural sleep pattern and that this is the only healthy way to live: Children spend a lot more time napping, and in the first few weeks and months of life, it’s not unusual for a baby to sleep 20 hours in a day! And elderly people also nap a lot without causing them much harm!

    Sleep Deprivation in the Modern Day

    Modern day life – style across the globe may now be leading us to become more and more sleep – deprived. I get a lot of people in my clinic whose main complaint is ‘not getting enough sleep’. Even my nurse has a tough time: she has three kids (a pair of twins thrown in), and after work, she has to take over from her maid who’s about ready to throw in the towel by that time. So my nurse spends her night – time nursing her three kids.

    “At least one of them needs to play at night every day, doc,” she complains with a brave smile, “They get their sleep while we are working; so when do I sleep?”

    Naps may not be as good as night – time sleep; we may not attain the depth of sleep, or go through the different stages of sleep – there are 4 stages of what is called Slow – Wave Sleep, followed by one stage of Non – slow wave sleep (or REM – sleep in technical parlance).

    It is believed that REM – sleep is very important; according to some, it is MOST IMPORTANT, and they believe the WHOLE PURPOSE of sleep is to enable us to have several episodes of REM sleep.

    It is unlikely that we attain REM – sleep during the short half – hour or one – hour power naps in the day, so the other stages of sleep are also quite important.

    In an article published September 23, 2013, Research psychologist Rebecca Spencer is quoted by author Janet Lathrop:

    … the first research results …. show that classroom naps support learning in preschool children by enhancing memory. Children who napped performed significantly better on a visual-spatial task in the afternoon after a nap and the next day than those who did not nap.

    In this study, the research workers recruited 40 children from six preschools across western Massachusetts. The children were taught a visual-spatial task similar to the game called “Memory”. In this game, the child sees a grid of pictures and has to remember where different pictures are located. The game was taught in the morning, after which each child played the game in two conditions:

    • In the first condition, the child was encouraged to nap during their regular times; each nap lasted an average of 77 minutes
    •  In the second condition, the child was kept awake for the same amount of time.
    • Memory for the game was tested after the nap and wake conditions and again the following day to see whether nighttime sleep affected performance.
    Research psychologist Rebecca Spencer of the University of Massachusetts Amherst

    Research psychologist Rebecca Spencer of the University of Massachusetts Amherst

    Following a nap, children recalled items 10% more than when they were tested without being allowed to nap. The children had 65% accuracy in locating the items during the memory test whey they did not nap, and this increased to 75% when tested after a nap.

    The memory did not improve after an overnight sleep, leading Rebecca Spencer to conclude that napping soon after learning had a stronger reinforcing effect, whereas sleeping many hours later does not positively influence the learning pattern.

     

     

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