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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Israeli Science: Noon Naptimes Good For The Brain?

(Image Credit: Chief Happiness Officer)

It looks like those afternoon naps in kindergarten had some benefit after all. Israeli scientists have discovered (or perhaps rediscovered) that those "noonish" naps we all took as kids may actually help improve our productivity during work.

(Israel 21st Century) In a recent study, Prof. Avi Karni and Dr. Maria Korman of the Center for Brain and Behavior Research at the University of Haifa found that an afternoon nap changes the course of consolidation in the brain. "We still don't know the exact mechanism of the memory process that occurs during sleep, but the results of this research suggest the possibility that it is possible to speed up memory consolidation, and in the future, we may be able to do it artificially," said Karni. [...]

The researchers, who worked in cooperation with the Sleep Laboratory at the Sheba Medical Center and researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal, found that the group that slept in the afternoon showed a distinct improvement in their task performance by that evening, as opposed to the group that stayed awake, which didn't exhibit any improvement.

Following an entire night's sleep, both groups exhibited the same skill level. "This part of the research showed that a daytime nap speeds up performance improvement in the brain. After a night's sleep the two groups were at the same level, but the group that slept in the afternoon improved much faster than the group that stayed awake," stressed Prof. Karni.

Despite the evidence, I have some strong doubts as to whether managers and bosses would approve of their workers taking naps during the day. Either way, this should help convince some co-workers to perhaps take a quick nap during their lunch break may help improve their performance on the job.

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