Taking a regular afternoon nap may be linked to better mental agility, a study has found. Researchers found sleeping in the afternoon was associated with better locational awareness, verbal fluency and working memory.
In addition to reducing sleepiness, mid-day naps offer various benefits such as memory consolidation, preparation for subsequent learning, executive functioning enhancement and a boost to emotional stability, but the study didn't observe these effects in all cases.
The study did not go more in-depth into cause and effect, but it did establish a link between daytime napping and memory and thinking.
This is good enough for me. I used to have regular daytime naps when I lived alone. It's much harder to do now, especially with a small baby around the house, but the study reminded me how well I felt after such naps, and I'm writing this after taking a 20-minute nap. Even though it's harder to do, it doesn't mean it's impossible.
From my own experience, naps between 15 and 30 minutes work wonders and provide a better boost than any coffee but going beyond 30 minutes risks crossing the border between REM sleep and deep sleep. Waking up from deep sleep during the day, for example, after a 45-minute or an hour-long sleep, was always disastrous for me. At best, I felt groggy till the end of the day. At worst, a nasty headache.
The study seems to confirm my findings: longer naps were associated with a decline in cognitive function. In contrast, shorter (less than 30 minutes) and more frequent naps have been linked to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
I don't need any more evidence, especially when it lines up perfectly with my own experience. I'll be taking more daytime naps from now on. Better working memory + memory consolidation + improved emotional stability + a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease? All that for a price of 15-20 minutes a day? It's as close to a wonder drug as you can get. I'll take it.