People who are able to have a short power nap and wake up restored and rested are to be envied. Who would not like to be able to take a short nap and be able to keep going like an energizer bunny? But, is power napping good for us or not is a question that divides scientists into two opposing groups. The latest research presented at the annual conference of neuroscientists shows that the right side of our brain gets very active during power naps, and that during that short rest our brain does some important “housecleaning”, it consolidates our memories and does many other things. That might be why we are sometimes having that “aha” moment, the mental spark after we close our eyes for a short time and take a short nap.
What our brain does while we nap?
The study conducted by the researchers from the Georgetown University’s Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging in Washington was relatively small – it worked with 15 people only, but the findings are sufficiently interesting to merit further investigation. The scientists found that the right side of the brain of their subjects was very busy during their short nap. The right side of the brain is linked with creativity, which explains why short naps can bring solutions to problems we were pondering for a long time.
Another study conducted by Harvard scientists found that power naps prevent burnout and improve learning and information processing.
Some other scientists believe that sleep, and even short naps, aid in transferring information from short term memory to permanent memory storage.
Power nap is spoiling real sleep
We all need sleep. Our body and mind get rested; we recuperate our energy, rest our muscles and wake up ready to face another day. But, for sleep to be really restful, it has to be deep and uninterrupted. Dr. Downey from the Sleep Disorders Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California believes that short daytime naps are in fact just pieces of fragmented sleep.
For people who suffer from insomnia, sleeping during the day, even short power naps, affect the sleep they should be getting at night and can be in fact counterproductive.
We still have a long way to go before we know what exactly happens in our brains while we sleep. For many of us, short shallow naps feel great and give us boost of energy when we most need it.. If it also helps with our cognitive abilities and memory storage, even better.