The Conversation: a short afternoon nap improves attention and memory

February 27, 2024  16:19

Stephen Bender, director of the Clinical Centre for Facial Pain and Sleep Medicine at the University of Texas in the US, told The Conversation that short daytime naps improve mental performance, while longer naps (more than 30 minutes) can disrupt circadian rhythms and impair cognitive function.

Bender said that the benefits of short daytime naps have been discovered through numerous studies. A daytime nap of 20 minutes can improve attention and memory, as well as alertness and reaction speed. It has also been noted that resting in this format correlates with the development of creative thinking.

In addition, daytime sleep can help you learn new motor skills, such as playing a musical instrument. This is because patterns of such activity are anchored in the brain during sleep.

The sleep medicine specialist added that short naps can provide such benefits. At the same time, after a long daytime nap (more than 30 minutes), a person may experience lethargy, disorientation and reduced mental performance throughout the subsequent waking hours.

Prolonged daytime sleep may also "interfere" with nighttime sleep, resulting in difficulty falling asleep or insomnia. These disruptions to the regular sleep-wake cycle can cause general sleep deprivation, which can cause significant damage to health. The negative effects of sleep deprivation include an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.

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