|Feeling Illogical? Take a Nap!|
October 16, 2000|
Have you ever felt tired before a big test?
New research suggests that if you had a poor night's sleep, a 15 minute nap after lunch may improve your alertness and logical reasoning.
Scientists at the National Institute of Industrial Health in Kawasaki, Japan, tested 12 students (average age, 22.1 years old) who slept for only 4 hours the night before tests for alertness, memory and logical reasoning. Students were given the opportunity to nap for 15 minutes after lunch (between 12:30 pm and 12:45 pm) and tested several times later in the afternoon.
After only 4 hours of sleep, the students napped for approximately 10 minutes and took only 3.8 minutes to fall asleep. When they awoke from their naps, the students felt less sleepy compared to when they did not nap. When the students were tested at 1:30 pm, they had fewer errors on the logical reasoning test and were more alert compared to when they did not nap. However, memory test scores were only slightly better and were not significantly different after a nap. When tested later in the afternoon, students did not have better scores on any memory or logical reasoning tests after they napped.
These data suggest that a brief nap after only a few hours of sleep the
night before may improve alertness and logical reasoning skills.
However, the beneficial effects of a nap were seen only in the early
afternoon, soon after the nap. Moreover, the experiments studied the
effects of naps on a small group of older students. It is unknown if naps
will have the same effect on younger students. Previous experiments have
shown that naps do NOT improve performance following a night without any
sleep. Therefore, naps do not make up for total sleep deprivation, but
may help after partial sleep loss. In other words, a nap will not help if
you "pull an all-nighter."
Takahashi, M. and Arito, H., Maintenance of alertness and performance by a brief nap after lunch under prior sleep deficit, Sleep, 23:813-819, 2000.
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