Nap for Success

Not long ago we learned that daydreaming is the key to creativity, and now I’ve got even better news: napping makes you smarter! Or, according to Richard Restak’s new book, Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Prescription for Improving Your Brain’s Performance, at least it helps you learn much more quickly:

In an experiment testing finger dexterity, [Matthew P.] Walker taught student volunteers skilled finger movements similar to piano scales. After learning the movements half of the students took a sixty-to-ninety minute nap while the others remained awake and continued with their day. When retested later that same afternoon, those who napped did 16 percent better than those who did not nap.

A daytime power nap produces nearly as much off-line memory enhancement as a whole night of sleep,” Walker told me. in order to do this, the brain selectively increases brief bursts of electrical activity called “sleep spindles.” Walker believes that these spindles trigger chemical reactions within brain cells that “instruct”s pecific brain circuits to strengthen connections, and thereby enhance memory. [Emphasis added.]

This agrees with other research. As I noted in my review of John Medina’s Brain Rules last year,

NASA tests showed that a 26 minute nap improved pilot performance by a third, while a 45-minute nap boosted cognitive performance by a similar amount. [From Neuromarketing - Brain Rules.]

So, there you have yet another excuse for your boss when you doze off at your desk… “Sleeping? No, I was enhancing my memory after that important presentation you gave!”


This post was written by:

— who has written 985 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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4 responses to "Nap for Success" — Your Turn


Paul 29. June 2009 at 10:05 am

So will you come down and talk to my boss after I put this in to practice?


Dr Wright 6. July 2009 at 7:13 am

I have always loved naps and enjoyed them. More people need them, if only to be less cranky!
Dr. Letitia Wright
The Wright Place TV Show


Jorge Barba 10. July 2009 at 5:44 pm

Taking a quick 15 minute power nap around 3 PM makes you feel like you slept a couple of hours more. It’s only beneficial to institute a power nap right after lunch.


Andrew DiFiore 17. July 2009 at 1:37 pm

Seems like common sense. Of course, it is hard to sleep if you’re stressed out about success.


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2 responses to "Nap for Success" — Your Turn