Falling asleep on the job can improve your memory

March 24th, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by admin  

Hamburg, March 24 (DPA) Falling asleep on the job for a few minutes can improve your memory and mental performance, according to a team of German researchers. Olaf Lahl at the University of Dusseldorf, Germany, has shown that simply falling asleep does more than refresh the brain - it can improve recall and mental efficiency.

In fact, a six-minute nap can have the same effect as night-time sleep on memory.

Lahl’s team asked students to memorise a list of vocabulary and tested their ability to recall the list after an hour of playing solitaire.

Volunteers were asked to remember a list of 30 words. They were then given an hour’s break before the memory test. During the break, some volunteers were allowed to nap for six minutes, while others had to stay awake.

The researchers found that those who had been allowed to nap displayed “superior recall” in the memory test compared to those who stayed awake.

The researchers said this was the first time that a very brief sleep has been shown to improve memory.

“To our knowledge, this demonstrates for the first time that an ultra-brief sleep episode provides an effective memory enhancement,” Lahl wrote in the Journal of Sleep Research.

His researchers found that it was possible that falling asleep triggered a process in the brain that continued regardless of how long the person stayed asleep.

“It seems much more is happening during the initialisation of sleep than we once thought,” Lahl said.

“Maybe much of sleep’s functional aspects are accomplished at its very beginning,” he writes in the article.

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