I hated it when my preschool and kindergarten teacher cued us to take out our nap mats — why nap when there was coloring to be done? Before I blame them for ruining my chance at becoming the next Picasso, it looks like they might have been on to something: a new study suggests that an afternoon nap might make you smarter.
Pitting nappers against non-nappers, researchers gave a group of 39 healthy, young adults a memory test before and after a 90-minute nap. When taking the memory test the second time, the non-nappers' scores dropped an average of 10 percent. Meanwhile, the nappers did even better the second time around. The University of California, Berkeley researchers also found that how much sleep the nappers got was much less important than the type of sleep they received. The more "stage 2 non-REM" sleep the participants had — a lighter form of non-dreaming sleep — the better they did.
Apparently, our brains get clogged during the day with information overload and taking a nap helps it recharge. After a brief resting period, it's able to consolidate the information it's picked up through the day, while also clear itself to be more adept at learning new information. While many of us don't have 90 minutes to snooze during our lunch break, even a 15 to 20 minute nap can help too.