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Getting through exams: The power nap

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Just in time for revision season comes the welcome news that a power nap really can boost your memory five-fold, according to a new study. 

Scientists at the Saarland University in Germany have found that taking a 45 – 60 minute power nap can boost your memory five-fold.  The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, tested the power of napping on a group of students.

A total of 41 students were taught 90 words and 120 unrelated word pairs, such as “milk taxi”. After being told this information, half of the participants were allowed to take a nap and the others watched a DVD. Those who napped were much better at remembering the words. 

Professor Axel Mecklinger, who supervised the study, said: “A short nap at the office or in school is enough to significantly improve learning success. Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep.''

The Sleep Foundation in the US supports a similar theory, suggesting that we should aim for a 20 to 30 mintues nap. They advise that this type of nap can significantly lead to improved alertness and performance without leaving you too groggy or interfering with your nighttime sleep - a common fear amongst novice nappers. 

As to when you should embark on your nap, while common assumptions suggest that a siesta post lunch is optimum time, it very much depends on your own natural body clock. If you're an early riser springing out of bed around 6am, then nap time for you should be around 1pm - assuming you're heading to bed around 10ish.

If you tend to start your day a little later than that, then your best time is probably around 2.30pm to 3pm. 

So next time you're feeling a tad sleepy and unproductive, why not test drive a power nap. As someone who used to cycle home from the library mid-afternoon for a revision break and nap... (and has since become something of a napping-pro), I cannot recommend it more highly.

Further exam information can be found Here.