I was skimming the New York Times the other day while I finished my sandwich, feeling the post-lunch coma just beginning to weigh on me, when I stumbled across this “Vital Signs” column: Behavior: Napping Can Prime the Brain for Learning.
It’s incredibly gratifying to see that the scientific community has put long hours into validating my college practices. Studies conducted in the past have indicated that sleeping after learning can help us recall that information later, but a new study out of the University of California, Berkeley, has found that our ability to remember new material is also improved by sleeping before learning. In the study, 39 healthy young adults were asked to learn 100 names and faces at noon, and then again six hours later. The 20 individuals who slept for 90 minutes between sessions saw their scores rise by an average of 10 percent from the afternoon to the evening session, while the scores of the 19 individuals who didn’t take a midday nap fell by an average of 10 percent.
So what does this mean for me, a once avid napper? Well, while the article didn’t tell me how to apply the study’s findings to my relatively new life in an office, I found the book that would on the Workman library shelf: Dr. Sara Mednick’s Take a Nap! Change Your Life: The Scientific Plan to Make You Smarter, Healthier, More Productive.
It’s the complete guide to the when, where, why, and how of nap-taking. I’m planning to make my “when” right after lunch, and my “where” a mat under my desk. Thank you, Science.