Grandma knew, for example, that taking a nap was beneficial. Part of grandma’s motivation, of course, was that putting the kids down for a nap gave the adults a break.
But she also knew it was good for us.
In a recent study at UC Berkeley a sleep study was conducted with 39 adults. The subjects were divided into two groups and given a rigorous learning task. The intent of the learning process was to tax the hippocampus, the area of our brain that stores fact-based memories before they move to long-term memory. Both groups performed equally well.
But later that afternoon one group was allowed to take a 90-minute nap while the other was not. The nap group was better able to learn new material better than those who did not take a nap.
Researchers concluded that sleep clears our short-term memory, making room for new knowledge.
In other words, working nonstop, cramming for exams and depriving yourself of sleep diminishes your mental alertness and effectiveness. We also know that this affects our happiness as well.
Duh! Grandma already knew this.
Next this team will study whether the reduced sleep we experience as we get older is related to a reduced capacity to learn as we age. Since I just celebrated a birthday, I’m interested in what this one will find.
Of course I could just save time and ask a Grandma.