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How a biphasic sleep schedule can make you smarter

Napping can make you smarter

People who catch 40 winks or an even longer nap during the day are often viewed to be lazy, less productive, and possessing inadequate sleep. Not so, according to recent brain research, that may benefit leaders.

We often heard and read stories of the habits of a Winston Churchill or John F. Kennedy catching their afternoon nap as a lifetime habit. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that an hour's nap can dramatically boost and restore your brain power. Indeed, the findings suggest that a "biphasic" sleep schedule (sleep at night, nap in afternoon) not only refreshes the mind, but can make you smarter.

Conversely, the more hours we spend awake, the more sluggish our minds become, according to the same research. The research supports the data that college students or workers who pull an "all-nighter" to cram knowledge, actually decrease the ability to learn by up to 40%.

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These findings reinforce the researchers' hypothesis that sleep is needed to clear the brain's short term memory storage and make room for new information. Fact-based memories are temporally stored in the hippocampus before being sent to the brain's prefrontal cortex, which may have more storage space. A memory-refreshing process occurs when nappers are engaged in a specific stage of sleep, known as Stage 2 non-REM sleep, which takes place between deep sleep (non-REM) and the dream state known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Previously ,the purpose of this stage was unclear, but the new results offer evidence as to why humans spend at least half their sleeping hours in Stage 2, non-REM sleep.

So if leaders and their workers want to remain alert and be smarter to do their work, an afternoon nap may the cost effective solution!

Ray B. Williams is Co-Founder of Success University and President of Ray Williams Associates, companies located in Phoenix and Vancouver, providing leadership training, personal growth and executive coaching services.



Ray Williams is the author of Breaking Bad Habits and The Leadership Edge.


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