Short siesta good for brain

Short naps are beneficial to the brain

Nodding off during work hours is a definite no-no, but new research shows that an afternoon siesta refreshes the brain and improves memory.

According to a German team of scientists it is the act of falling asleep, rather than being asleep that is beneficial to our health.

Just 10 minutes of shut-eye reduces lethargy, despite other studies saying more time asleep is necessary.

The study asked students to memorise a list of words and to recall it after playing solitaire for an hour. Some students were allowed a five-minute nap at the start, and this group were far more successful at remembering the word list.

Dr Olaf Lahl who carried out the study told the New Scientist: ‘Much more is happening during the initialisation of sleep than we once thought. Maybe much of sleep’s functional aspects are accomplished at its very beginning.’

According to one scientist, Dr Stickgold, just before sleep the brain ‘replays’ recent events, producing dreamlike sensations and Stickgold believes this could be beneficial to the power nap.

‘It’s as if the brain is sifting through new material to figure out what to work with,’ he said. ‘You might not even need sleep after that hypnagogic period.’

So, perhaps an afternoon siesta today might be just what the doctor ordered.

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