Pop quiz: What can make you smarter in as little as 20 minutes, costs nothing, and you must do with your eyes closed?
One of my favorite topics is the benefits of napping. I can’t get enough of studies that confirm that a so-called “biphasic sleep” sleep schedule—sleeping in two spurts during the 24-hour day, which typically means sleeping at night and then taking a siesta in the afternoon—is an ideal way to keep your brain sharp, prepared to learn new things, and feel refreshed. No wonder some of our most historic brains are noted fans of napping:
Brahms napped at the piano while composing his famous lullaby. Winston Churchill scheduled his cabinet meetings around his naps, alleging that he required a daily afternoon nap in order to cope with his wartime responsibilities. Some of today’s top athletes and Olympians take long naps in the afternoons as part of their training regimen. Their naps are as important as their daily exercise.
And Leonardo Da Vinci took the concept of biphasic sleeping to extreme. He was known for “polyphasic” sleep, getting his winks in four-hour intervals. Is that what allowed him to be so innovative and ingenious?
Earlier this year, a new study out of the University of California, Berkeley, shows that an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brain power. Some of the most interesting findings:
Since 2007, we’ve known that fact-based memories are temporarily stored in the hippocampus before being sent to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which may have more storage space.
So, what makes an ideal nap? Here’s The Sleep Doctor’s Guide to Napping™:
If anyone gives you a hard time catching a few winks in the afternoon, just tell them that you’re working on your brain power. And that they, too, could use the brain boost if they’re acting so misinformed. They need mental space for the facts about napping!
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™