As we nap from the time we are in kindergarten, to the long days after work, napping has more benefits to our mental well-being than we are aware of! Even though we don’t think of naps as a vital element to our everyday routine, sleeping the day away has been proven to increase the amount of information we retain through our memory processes as the academic peer reviewed journal explains.
It has been proven in the past, if we review exam information before we go to bed, we are more likely to remember the information better than if we had reviewed during the daylight hours. Throughout the research conducted by Kelly Bennion and Jessica Payne, alumni of Boston College and the University of Notre Dame, the two sought out to determine if napping could potentially impact the likelihood that we could remember more information as time went on.
They then explored how our minds order information into different levels of priority as we doze off into a deep sleep. Bennion and Payne later gathered participants to bring their ideology to life.
The researchers chose to have “84 native English speakers with normal or corrected to normal vision” (Bennion; Payne, 2016) as their prospects. The majority of these participants were in the age group of 18- 27 years of age. Of those 84 participants, ten of them were asked to sit out because they did not score high enough in a memory performance test. The lack of memory contained in these ten prospects could have altered the validity of the ending research results.
Prior to the method was initiated, the participants were monitored for all types of neurological diseases that affected the participant’s central nervous system to make sure the experimental results would not be altered due to the fault of the contributors. The participants were then assured to get a good night’s rest for at least 7 hours during the week that immediately preceded the date the researchers would conduct their face to face research.
The remaining contributors were divided up into two distinct groups– the experimental group and the control group– the nap and wake group. Later, the researchers decided to add an additional group, a combination of the two that were already existing, the Nap+Wake group. Within this combination group, participants spent equal times napping and being awake, as when they were awake, they spent their time encoding and later retrieving information that they had been told to memorize. This information included details from a mixture of 90 scenes that were four seconds in length each.
These images were superjacent as they were projected upon a screen and varied in types of films, such as positive, neutral and negative stimuli. After the participants viewed and encoded the scenes, the three groups were told to take a 2-4 hour nap. The length of the nap depended on which group they resided with. After the participants woke up from the nap, they were instructed to images, one at a time, on another screen. The participants were then told to point out which image seemed older and more recent to them. The images were the same from the 90 scenes. Here, the research developers could tell which type of scene the brain prioritized remembering.
The results of this research are what we all want to hear– napping, indeed, improves memory functions. The researchers concluded that the more one naps throughout the day, the more they will remember. All three groups woke up at the same time, relatively. The participants seemed to all remember the intentional stimuli more effectively than the incidentally learned stimuli. The intentionally encoded stimuli was information the participants were instructed to remember, meanwhile, the incidental stimuli was information they picked up along the way.
Within the discussion section of the journal, the researchers emphasized their findings and related it to past experiments done by other professionals in their field. Bennion and Payne solidified their hypothesis that while we are sleeping, our brain prioritizes certain information we put into storage and later on retrieve; the brain prioritizes goal directed information. Two of the three groups: Nap and Nap+Wake ultimately remembered intentionally learned stimuli, meanwhile the Wake group remembered the incidental information.
Personally, I believe that this research was informative, all while keeping readers interested. Napping is an issue everybody can relate to, so the topic is didactic and intriguing. However, I feel as if the researchers could have conducted a more simple experiment and received mirrored results. Also, they could have included more information within the discussion about what we could do with this information and how we can implement napping into the majority of the population’s busy schedule. In today’s world, people do not have time for naps! However, I can take away that sleeping in more often will impact me beneficially in the future. Additionally, the article needed to include the importance of naps besides benefits to memory, as the majority population only believes they are for relaxing, not building memory endurance.