A little while back I posted some information about the benefit of naps, and was surprised at some of the response, even though I’ve been accused of just wanting to justify my need for naps at my age. Pooh!
Now along comes even more great info about the benefit of naps. The following article is from the May 14, 2010 issue of The Week (which, if you haven’t read yet, I highly recommend) under the Health and Science section and published verbatim herein:
To dream, perchance to learn
A good night’s sleep and even a nice nap can boost your brain’s ability to remember and learn new information. But dreams can help even more, a new study suggests. For the Harvard study, 100 volunteers were asked to take a test on a computer that involved finding their way around a maze. After a five-hour break, they took the test again. Those who had stayed awake in the interim improved their time by an average of 26 seconds, while subjects who took a 90-minute nap did much better, improving their time by 188 seconds. But the most dramatic improvements were among the four who actually dreamed about the test; their performances improved 10 times as much as the nondreamers’. “I was startled by this finding,” Harvard neuroscientist Robert Stickgold tells Science News. “This study tells us that dreams are the brain’s way of processing, integrating, and really understanding new information.” Researchers suspect that dreams don’t directly improve memory; rather, they’re byproducts of a deeper thought process in which memories are being integrated. In any event, “if you’re studying something tough, get the basics down and take a nap,” says sleep researcher Michael Breus. “If you dream about it, you will probably understand it better.”
The last part about dreaming about what you’re studying may seem a little tricky, if not impossible. However, I can assure you that I studied techniques on how to create lucid or cognitive dreaming years ago, whereby you are conscious of the fact that you are dreaming and actually capable of manipulating portions of the dream. Although difficult to accomplish, they actually sometimes worked, sometimes somewhat disturbingly so, simply because it seems weird to be able to do it.
I believe my first knowledge came from an old Omni magazine (now, out of pubication) but you can Google cognitive or lucid dreaming and find some fascinating stuff.
At any rate, I’m 100% for anything that makes Me Improve my mental performance and makes me feel good at the same time, probably also improving my attitude and what little congeniality I have towards others, no matter what anyone says about naps at my age.