Having Trouble Thinking?... Take a Nap!


| 5 Comments
Ever sit at your computer, staring aimlessly at your screen attempting to figure out a certain answer and simply just can not think of where to even begin?  Apparently, "power naps" are being connected to stirring up ideas in the brain, by this CNN study.  A topic that to me does not make much sense, as I think of waking up from a power nap just as groggy and dazed as before.  

However, what this study is stating is that during these short, mid-afternoon naps, the right hemisphere of the brain, which is stated in the study as the side of the brain that is for "creative tasks," and "big picture thinking,"  is working more than usual during these naps which is generating more ideas and gaining knowledge from the brain's memory.  While the other side of the brain is for analytic thinking, dealing with "numbers and languages."  Now, all of this information is still currently being studied, but the thought that this relaxing task could actually improve someone's intelligence is very interesting.  
brain hem.jpg

This article by Health, further explains the same concept of an afternoon power nap making people "smarter."  A study done that is described in the article by Health, contributed to these findings by having college students learn people's names and faces whom they had never met before.  The students were asked to match the names with the faces multiple times at various points in the day.  One group was allocated to have a 90 min nap, and after the nap, the results of matching the faces with names turned out to be significantly more accurate than the group without the nap.  (Statistics were not provided)

The CNN article at the top, discussed an experiment done on the brain that resulted in more intense blood flow during naps which has been linked to more activity going on during both regions of the brain, which could potentially result as strong evidence supporting the alternative hypothesis.

Now if you are thinking about implementing a power nap into your daily schedule, here are some tips I have researched that supposedly can result in the perfect power nap.  Is this a sensible thing to try?  Personally, I do not see any harm in it, unless you are using a power nap to just be lazy and put work off until the last minute.  I would be interested to hear what everyone else's opinion is on this topic.  Do you believe that a power nap can revamp your memory and increase your ability to remember and answer questions?


5 Comments

Last year in PSYCH 100, we learned about a study that seems similar to the one you researched. In the study, the subjects were also given names and faces to remember, and then were allowed to take a nap. I was taught that this helps improve memory because by going to sleep, your brain has less distractions, and less things to remember. If you are awake and trying to remember this information, your brain is not only processing that, but processing everything else around you as well. My professor last year gave us a tip, here it is: The night before an exam, do all your last minute studying and then immediately when you are done- go to bed. This helps your brain store the information better.
This article, from NBC, encourages naps, but also stresses the importance of getting a good nights sleep. Getting a good sleep every night allows the brain to function normally. I agree with this article- because sometimes the problem can't be solved with just a nap. Sometimes the issue is that the person isn't getting enough sleep- period. Studies have shown that general intelligence can be boosted by getting more sleep.

Last year in PSYCH 100, we learned about a study that seems similar to the one you researched. In the study, the subjects were also given names and faces to remember, and then were allowed to take a nap. I was taught that this helps improve memory because by going to sleep, your brain has less distractions, and less things to remember. If you are awake and trying to remember this information, your brain is not only processing that, but processing everything else around you as well. My professor last year gave us a tip, here it is: The night before an exam, do all your last minute studying and then immediately when you are done- go to bed. This helps your brain store the information better.
This article, from NBC, encourages naps, but also stresses the importance of getting a good nights sleep. Getting a good sleep every night allows the brain to function normally. I agree with this article- because sometimes the problem can't be solved with just a nap. Sometimes the issue is that the person isn't getting enough sleep- period. Studies have shown that general intelligence can be boosted by getting more sleep.

That is an extremely intriguing point you made about the tip your professor gave you. I remember back in high school, people that gave me tips on the SATs recommended going over vocab and like you say go to bed directly after studying. They told us about a study that was done about students that had taken the SATs, and different studying/sleeping methods that was done, and if fact the students that had follow the sleeping habits that were instructed apparently did much better on the SATs. Now, was there an outside variable? Maybe some students were very good test takers, who knows. They didnt show us a source from the study but I just remember that and I had always followed that napping/sleeping strategy.

Napping is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It is truly amazing how many great things napping can do for you. A bit of research (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/napping/MY01383) shows that napping can increase your energy level, improve your mood, reduce your stress, among many other things. With all these proven benefits, it is curious why we all dont take a nap a day or use a nap to recharge. Many of us do not like to nap because of the negative aspects of napping. A lot of us (especially me) have trouble controling our naps and what is a planned 20 minute power nap can turn into a 2 hour midday siesta. This can lead to grogginess and a loss of short term focus. Many of us also fear that these "power naps" will interfere with our regular sleep cycle and keep us up at night when we want to be sleeping. The national sleep foundation (http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/napping) states that as long as you keep your naps short, about 30 minutes or less, you are unlikely to affect your normal sleep schedule.

Hey William, the handy tech faq page will teach you how to link to pages if you have trouble. Having to highlight, copy, and paste site addresses makes them way less likely to be explored.

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