The benefits of napping on cognitive memory

As you know, the quality of sleep plays a big role on your body. After a long night of quality, your batteries are recharged, your immune system is strengthened, and you feel in a good mood! However, the benefits of sleep don’t stop there: essential for your brain,sleeping well improves your creativity, your learning abilities and your memorization! So, does it necessarily take an entire night to boost your memory? Can napping also play a role in your cognitive memory? Let’s take stock!


Sleep and memory: a proven fact!

The link between sleep and cognitive memory is very close. Upstream, sleep puts your brain in good conditions in order to encode information during the day. So Sleeping prepares your brain to learn effectively.

Then, at night, sleep will consolidate the memorization of these learnings,in order to make it a lasting memory. You may have already experienced it, for example during your studies. When you learn a lesson at night, not all information seems to be integrated when you go to bed. But when you wake up, you remember everything! Your memory has been consolidated, at every stage of sleep.


Enhanced memory at every sleep phase

First, during light and then deep sleep (the steps that follow falling asleep), it is your declarative memory that is consolidated. Also called explicit memory,it consists of our memories and knowledge.

During REM sleep (the sleep phase in which we dream), it is the procedural memory that is strengthened. It is that of our know-how, our motor and perceptual skills.


Beware of sleep quality

It’s not enough to sleep longer to improve your memory. When you sleep 8 hours,your brain goes through several cycles of 90 minutes.

These consist of light sleep, then deep sleep and finally REM sleep, which, as we have seen, all allow you to strengthen your cognitive memory.

But beware: if your sleep is disturbed, and your cycles are not regular (insomnia, nocturnal awakenings, sleep apnea…), your disorders can have negative repercussions on different forms of memory.

In short, if you improve the quality of your sleep, you strengthen your declarative and procedural memory. Yes, taking care of your sleep is even more precious than you thought…

But then, can you improve your cognitive memory by taking a simple nap? Or do we need a full night to consolidate our knowledge?

Does napping affect your cognitive memory?

Since sleep has proven effects on your memory,can napping also benefit you? Well, yes! But for it to have a real impact on your memory, here are several tips to adopt:

Listen to your circadian rhythm

You have to wait 6 to 8 hours after waking up to take a nap. Indeed, this desire responds to a signal given by our biological clock. From the first signs of fatigue, it’s time to isolate yourself!

How long does it take for a real memory consolidation?

The nap promotes memorization and would allow us to assimilate new data. Indeed, during this short time of rest, the brain benefits from a refurbishment! Napping not only rekindles your alertness, but puts your neurons back in place in just 15 to 20 minutes.

If very large companies like Apple or Google allow their employees to take a break for a nap, it’s not for nothing. These flash naps make learningeasier, and allow you to be more productive. They cleanse your brain so it can absorb new information.

In Berkley,a study indicated that a nap that lasts an hour can greatly increase your ability to memorize information. The nap then functions as a kind of restart,during which the short-term memory is emptied. A 60-minute nap helps you sort through the information your brain has received: you can remember names, facts, faces… When you wake up, your brain is “refreshed,” and since the information that’s not essential to you has been sorted, you have room to integrate new ones! The only downside: by opting for a one-hour nap,you experience a slight drowsiness when you wake up… But since the strengths on your cognitive memory are there, this little inertia may be worth it, right?

The quality of the nap is essential

To successfully consolidate your memory,you must do everything to maximize the quality of your nap. Choose a quiet place where you won’t wake up, and opt for a position that allows your body to relax. Your legs and arms should be unscathed,and whenever possible, opt for an elongated position: your head, your neck, your spine must be perfectly aligned, so as not to feel any contracture or twisting. To be sure to give your body the appeasement it needs, ergonomic shape memory pillows are an interesting solution.

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