Power naps and your hippocampus work as a dynamic duo to consolidate memories.
“ I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it’s not a waste of time”, Martha Stewart. And “Though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dreams, and that will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are”, Rumi.
According to the post creator, Christopher Bergland, he claims the brain is never at rest. Even with deep sleep or just a catnap, your brain is always at work. Bergland mentions that neuropsychologists in Germany recently discovered that a power nap can improve retention of learned material five-fold.
Previous studies have shown that sleep improves memory performance. The new study focused on the hippocampus and how the different components of sleep (Sleep spindles, and Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS)) play an important role in the consolidation of memory. Researchers found that power naps lasting 45 to 60 minuets produced a five-fold improvement on information retrieval from memory. More specifically, Bergland quotes, “the researchers at Saarland University in Germany found that power naps dramatically boost the retention of hippocampus-dependent associative memories”. He also mentions that the hippocampus plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and in spatial navigation.
What Makes Power Naps So Powerful?
Researcher’s examined “Sleep Spindles”, these play an important role during sleep in memory consolidation. “A sleep spindle is a short burst of rapid oscillations on the electroencephalogram (EEG)”. Researchers believe that information of high importance are subconsciously tagged, recorded, and given priority during memory consolidation while you are in the “Sleep spindle” stage of sleep. During a power nap, recently learned information is given a label, making it easier to recall that information at a later time. Power naps make your memory of something stronger, which is reflected by a greater number of sleep spindles seen on the EEG.
The research team at Saarland University concluded from its study:
A short nap at the office or in school is enough to significantly improve learning success. Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep. A concentrated periods of learning followed by a short relaxing sleep seems to be the winning formula for consolidating memories.
The post also mentioned new recommendations of sleep durations for all age groups, newborns all the way to older adults. I have always been pro-nap so I am glad there is evidence to show that naps are beneficial and not what my mother would call me just being lazy! Power naps revive your brain and body, and can provide you with a kick-start to the second part of your day. Naps will help your hippocampus strengthen memories while giving you a boost to take on the rest of your day.