The Other I

July 9, 2010

Another brainy reason for sleep

Filed under: Intriguing Science — theotheri @ 3:07 pm

We still don’t altogether understand why we need to sleep, but there’s a lot of evidence piling up that it’s not smart to skip it.  Yesterday’s post described the intellectual benefits to teenagers of sleeping in.   Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that taking a siesta increases our ability to remember specific events, places and times as well.

There is also another bit of good news.  People who take siestas are less apt to die of heart disease than the 9-5 crowd.

In fact, the benefits to memory of a mid-day nap are so great that, if well-timed, the beneficial memory effects can equal an entire’s night’s sleep.  Naps taken too late in the afternoon, however, can lead to grogginess (the official term for which is “sleep inertia”) which interferes with functioning altogether and is worse than no nap at all.

Ideal nap times vary.   Even a fifteen minute nap can benefit many people.  In general, however, the first half hour sleep improves motor performance – like driving the car.  The most substantial benefits, unfortunately, come in the second hour.

It might be possible to convince the boss that a 15 minute break lying back in the office chair is beneficial.  Two hours is probably going to be a little trickier.

Unless the boss is taking a siesta at the same time.

Come to think of it, that might be the smartest way to start off the process.


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