Sleep on it, you’ll feel better

Being a college student, I rarely ever feel tired, or overworked, or like I am struggling to remember things that “just won’t stick”. Did I say rarely ever? I meant always. Fortunately, Traci Pederson just put out this new article about the benefits of napping. Pederson states that taking a short nap can actually help retain new information.

Pederson conducted a study where participants were asked to memorize 90 single words, and 120 meaningless word pairs. The word pairs, like “milk” and “taxi”, were chose to eliminate familiarity effects. After the participants were exposed to the words, half of the participants watched DVDs, while the other half took a nap. The participants that were able to sleep performed significantly better than those who watched the DVDs.

The researchers looked specifically at sleep spindles. Sleep spindles are a specific type of brain activity that play a huge part in memory consolidation while you are asleep. Essentially, the more sleep spindles that occur while you sleep, the more information you will be able to recall.

Pederson concludes, “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.”The company The Huffington Post seems to have accepted Pederson’s conclusions because they have “napquest” rooms, where you will find this:

huffington-post-nap-room

This bed costs $8,000, but it is a small price to pay for better memory recall! (Maybe I’m biased because I want these at UMW).

Let’s get back into the cognitive aspect of memory and sleep. John Hamilton talks about a study where the brain activity of rats were observed. Researchers noted that certain areas of the brain were activated when the rats were in a certain location. Now here comes the awesome part; when the rats went to sleep, those areas of the brain were lit up in the same order. This hints at the idea that during sleep, memories are perhaps re-experienced when they are consolidated. When the memories are consolidated, it’s almost like they are being reviewed; the brain activates the same pattern of neural firing, thus enhancing learning

So the next time you are studying away and are getting tired, take a nap! You will feel better and your memory will remember to thank you.

6 thoughts on “Sleep on it, you’ll feel better

  1. elisepoffenberger

    Cool! Everybody seems to have a different opinion on naps. Some say they’re bad for you and others say the exact opposite. I agree with this post. When I’m tired of studying, or doing some other task, taking a quick nap and going back to the task seems to help me. I don’t feel the same way at all when I take a break and play on my phone. This post was really interesting!

  2. Meghan Turney

    I love to nap when I get the chance. This article made me happy so now when I say I need a nap so I can do work later I won’t feel as bad haha. I like how you provided actual EEG data to back this up because you always have some people saying naps don’t help you out and they make studying or doing work worse. I’d like to see how these nap machines work, interesting!

  3. Maryfay Jackson

    I am not really a big napper but after reading this I really think that I should consider taking more naps, especially with finals week slowly approaching. I knew that reading things over before you go to bed helped you retain some information but it never clicked that naps did the same thing. It’s interesting to hear about the rats and their brain images when they are asleep and how it lights up in the same area and order. Now I really think I need to nap more.

  4. mdeasis

    I love this article because it makes me feel less guilty about napping. Like you said, especially as a college student, stress and tiredness are not strangers to us in any way. Whenever I feel as if I have time to nap, I always feel guilty because I feel like I could use that time being productive. However, this article really shows me that napping actually does good for your brain so I definitely won’t feel that guilty in the future with my napping. 🙂

  5. kaylie

    Awesome post! I thought the special beds for napping in the work place were really interesting. They would definitely not go unused at college campuses. It would be an interesting study to see if there were any differences in student performance after the addition of those special beds to college campuses. Judging from this article, I am assuming there would be! It would just be interesting to see how profound the effect would be.

  6. Remy Marcus

    I loved this post. I think that taking naps is a really good way to take a study break and I really need to do it more. I feel as though if I sleep right after I study, I consolidate and remember more information the next morning. I also wonder if studying right after a good nights rest improves your ability to retain more information.

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