Take That Power Nap – You Could End Up Smarter

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It may not
make you popular with your boss but a snooze in the middle of the
day dramatically boosts your brain power.

Medical researchers
have shown that the power naps favoured by Winston Churchill, Albert
Einstein and Margaret Thatcher not only refresh the mind, they also
make people smarter.

They found
snoozing for just one hour in the day is enough to increase the
brain’s ability to learn new facts in the hours that follow.

Dr Matthew
Walker, a psychologist at the University of California, who led
the study, said: ‘Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness
but, at a neuro-cognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were
before you took a nap.’

While many
people will ridicule the idea of taking 40 winks at lunchtime, some
of the most influential people on the planet were keen cat nappers.

Lady Thatcher
claimed she got by on just four hours of sleep each night but had
a short sleep in the day, while Bill Clinton famously took a 30-minute
nap after lunch.

Famous daytime
dozers also include John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Florence Nightingale.

Many sleep
researchers argue that the British habit of trying to stay awake
from morning until night is inherently unhealthy.

They point
to countries such as Spain where most people traditionally go for
a post-lunch siesta.

In the Californian
study, the researchers split 39 healthy students into two groups
and asked them to carry out a learning task – linking faces with
names – intended to tax the hippocampus, the region of the brain
that helps store facts.

At 2pm, half
the group took a 90 minute siesta, while the rest stayed awake.

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24, 2010

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