Could checking out the back of your eyelids boost your brain activity? In a recent study, 40 healthy adults volunteered to help scientists determine the benefits of afternoon napping on learning and memory. All the participants began by trying to memorize pairs of words. After 40 minutes, they were asked to recall as many word pairs as they could. Next, half of the participants took a 90-minute nap, and the other half watched a documentary. Finally, all participants were asked to memorize a second list of word pairs and then recall them 40 minutes later. Notably, the nappers showed a 21% improvement and the documentary viewers showed no improvement. The scientists found that napping seemed to “reset” the hippocampal region in the brain, which is involved in learning and memory, and they had significantly higher activity in the hippocampus during the second word pair memorization activity. Thus, an afternoon nap may be a natural way to boost your brain activity.
Ong JL, et al. A daytime nap restores hippocampal function and improves declarative learning. Sleep. 2020;43(9):zsaa058. doi:10.1093/sleep/zsaa058.