Wanna Learn Better?!?! Take A Nap

Nap much? If not, you need to get on that.

Young adults who slept for 90 minutes after lunch increased their "learning power,'' apparently readying their memories to soak up new facts, according to an article in The New York Times, which cites new research presented at the the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

"You need to sleep before learning, to prepare your brain, like a dry sponge, to absorb new information,'' Matthew P. Walker, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Califorinia, Berkeley, said in the article.

The study observed 39 healthy young adults and divided them into two groups. All were asked to learn 100 names and faces at noon, then another set at 6 p.m., the article says. But 20 of the volunteers who slept for 90 minutes between the two periods enhanced their scores by an average of 10 percent after napping, while the scores of those who didn't nap fell by 10 percent.

Until now, studies of have shown that sleep helps strengthen memory after cramming for exams, but the new findings, which have not yet been published, indicate that sleep can "actually restore the ability to learn,'' the article says.

Sleep is just now being recognized as a powerful health rejuvenator.

"While we often consider sleep to be a 'passive' activity, sufficient sleep is increasingly being recognized as an essential aspect of health promotion and chronic disease prevention in the public health community,'' according to the the Web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A lack of sleep is associated with chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression, according to the CDC. "Notably, insufficient sleep is associated with the onset of these diseases and also poses important implications for their management and outcome,'' the site says.

More than one-quarter of the U.S. population reports occasionally not getting enough sleep, while nearly 10 percent experiences chronic insomnia, resulting in low productivity and accidents, according to the CDC. Now, health care officials can tackle sleeplessness as a physical and mental health problem.

Just think, in the future your doctor may write a prescription for a daily nap--preferably at noon.

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