Those of us who prefer to explore the fabled realms of dreamland in those dreary maths lessons finally have the justification we are waiting for.

A new NUS study has found that napping can yield substantial benefits for teenagers’ learning and memory, as Channel Newsasia reports.

The study, conducted over two 15-day periods on 112 participants aged 15-19, discovered that participants displayed a far better long-term memory after taking a 90-minute nap in the afternoon. 

The benefits were similar both for well-rested teenagers, and those who were restricted to six-and-a-half hours of sleep, as is “common in the local adolescent population”.

Ouch.

The researchers involved have suggested two theories for these observations. The first is that slow-wave sleep—the deepest stage of sleep where dreaming happens—refreshes the participants’ memory, preparing them to learn better when they wake up. 

Alternatively, napping may allow the brain to process and reorganise information learned while awake, making more room for new information to be absorbed after the nap.

So now you can say you are studying while you nap.

Sleeping more, in general, is better for you

Regardless of whether you choose to take that nap, it is important to remember the benefits of sleeping enough.

Numerous studies, as Channel Newsasia comments, have shown the myriad health benefits sleep brings, from reducing the risk of diabetes to aiding the prevention of mental disorders like cardiovascular diseases.

While the kiasu among us might be tempted to sacrifice sleep for some extra work done, sleep deprivation and its consequent health consequences can in fact significantly hurt productivity and economic gain.

Research has shown that sufficient sleep can enable a worker to be more productive on average even if they work less, eventually bringing advantage to their long-term earnings. 

Remember the days when you wake up after two hours of sleep only to feel groggy, dizzy, and unable to concentrate on anything even after that third cup of coffee? Yeah, that’s proof.

Indeed, the economic impacts of insufficient sleep can be felt acutely on a national scale: the lack of sleep has cost Japan up to 2.92% of its GDP, according to a 2016 RAND study.

So…how should I get better sleep?

Granted, there are times when we just can’t find the time to sleep with two assignments due to 2359 and three presentations in the morning the next day. 

However, it is important to acknowledge the need for sleep and let ourselves have the rest we crave—much as, as Ng Chia Wee describes in a commentary, the anxiety of not reaching our full potential keeps us awake till the early morning.


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Indeed, while burning the midnight oil might provide the security of diligence, the detriments to productivity brought by sleep deprivation also mean that we could have done the same work in a shorter time while well-rested.

And without feeling like collapsing on your keyboard every second.

What’s also important is the consistency of sleep—even if you treat yourself to a king’s slumber of 12 hours one night, the benefits may be compromised if you only manage four the next. 

Research has found that adolescents with inconsistent sleep schedules across a school week experienced more limited development of white matter connections, as compared to those with more consistent sleep durations. 

And of course, if you can’t manage any of the above, you could always drag yourself to IKEA for some new pillows. They’ve been shown to help, too.

Featured Image: releon8211 / Shutterstock.com

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