Proof that ‘sleeping on it’ works! Scientists discover 90-minute naps help you ‘weigh up the pros and cons of challenging decisions’
- It’s long been said that ‘sleeping on it’ can help you make decisions
- But now researchers from Bristol University have confirmed the theory
- They measured the reactions of 16 participants who took part in 2 tests
- However, half of them repeated the test after sleeping – the others didn’t
It’s long been said that ‘sleeping on it’ can help you make challenging decisions.
But now a scientific experiment has confirmed the theory – having a snooze really can help you make clearer choices.
Researchers measured changes in the brains and reaction times of 16 participants before and after a brief nap.
The results suggest a period of sleep may help weighing up pros and cons or gain insight before making a tough choice.
It’s long been said that ‘sleeping on it’ can help you make challenging decisions. But now a scientific experiment has confirmed the theory – having a snooze really can help you make clearer choices
Bristol University scientists, who conducted the study, branded their findings ‘remarkable’.
All the participants, who were aged between 20 and 91, were hooked up to an EEG to measure the electrical activity in their brain.
They were asked to carry out two tasks for Dr Liz Coulthard and her team’s experiment, published in the Journal of Sleep Research.
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In the first, they were asked to describe whether they thought a chain of words were either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
ARE NAPS AS GOOD AS CAFFEINE?
The benefits of having a nap during the day are similar to those experienced after consuming caffeine, according to a sleep expert back in January.
By having a snooze instead of a coffee or tea the side effects of dependence from a stimulant, including disrupted sleep at night time, can be avoided.
That’s according to Dr Nicole Lovato, postdoctoral research fellow, from AdelaideInstitute for Sleep Health, Flinders University.
Her research also found those who regularly nap report feeling more alert after a brief nap in the afternoon when compared to those who only nap occasionally.
And in the second, volunteers were quizzed on whether they thought they saw a red or blue square dozens of times on a screen.
Participants practiced the tasks and then either stayed awake or took a 90-minute nap before repeating the same challenges.
Reactions time were much quicker in the subjects who had slept – but only in the first task, which required more thought.
Participants who napped took 590ms, on average, to complete answers on the first task. In comparison, it took them 643ms before their sleep.
However, for those who stayed awake for an hour-and-a-half before repeating the tasks showed no difference in the first challenge.
It is already known the process of memory is strengthened during sleep.
But the study suggests information acquired during wakefulness may potentially be processed in some deeper, qualitative way during sleep
Dr Coulthard said: ‘The findings are remarkable in that they can occur in the absence of initial intentional, conscious awareness.’
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