WriteSpa #45 – Napping Makes You Smarter

WriteSpa – An Oasis for Writers


Almost a year ago I wrote how “nonsense makes you smarter.” Now here’s another one I like: A new study by Harvard University researchers claims that taking a nap makes you smarter!

It’s been known for a while that a good night’s sleep makes you think and act more clearly and quickly. While you sleep, anything that you’ve just learned – including information for tests or a new skill – gets integrated in your brain. Napping for an hour or two has a similar benefit. Combining a night’s sleep with an afternoon nap has twice the effect on your brain that only a night’s sleep does. In other words, “Divided sleep is more recuperative than sleep taken in a single block,” says Gregory Belenky, who’s a Research Professor and Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University.

There are lots of statistics you can research for yourselves to find out more about the wonderful topic of napping, including NASA’s findings that pilots who nap (not while on the job but in between, we hope) increase their alertness and performance by as much as 50%.

I’ve always felt that most people undervalue the beauty and importance of sleep. Napping has a stigma of laziness attached to it – except in those wise Mediterranean, Latin, and South Pacific countries where it’s taken for granted. This stigma is especially hard on teenagers, who are deluged with constantly new information, new experiences, and new social situations that have to be dealt with, and are required to wake up much too early, and told not to put their heads down on their desk after lunch … think how much smarter a whole rising generation would be if they were assigned nap periods as part of their daily schedule!

For many people, napping is also deeply enjoyable. Do you feel guilty when you enjoy a nice leisurely walk or watch a movie … but you regard taking a nap as indolent? Time to change that way of thinking. Not only is napping beneficial to your physical and mental well-being, but it’s highly pleasurable as well, and pleasure is a good thing.

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Fun Writing Practice – Nap

Here’s your task: Spend several hours on your WIP, have a tasty light lunch, and then take a nap for an hour or an hour-and-a-half. Ideally, do this around two o’clock, when your body’s clock dips way down in energy and alertness.  You’ll join the ranks of Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, and John F. Kennedy, who all took naps during some of the most crucial moments in history.

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Daily Happinesses
  • soft towels in the linen closet
  • dinner plans
  • the Holy Feet of the Sri Gomatheswar statue, Sravanabelagola
  • the Staten Island Ferry
  • biting into a just-picked apple
  • Meteora, Greece, at dawn
  • being unexpectedly kissed

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