Naps with Dreams Improve Performance

Have to solve a problem? Try taking a nap. But it has to be the right kind of nap — one that includes rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, the kind that includes dreams.

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Researchers led by Sara C. Mednick, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, gave 77 volunteers tests under three before- and-after conditions: spending a day without a nap, napping without REM sleep, and napping with REM sleep. Just spending the day away from the problem improved performance; people whostayed awake did a little better on the 5 p.m. session than they had done on the 9 a.m. test. Taking a nap without REM sleep also led to slightly better results. But a nap that included REM sleep resulted in nearly a 40 percent improvement over the pre-nap performance.

Source:
The study is published June 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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