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Memory boosted by naps.

NODDING off refreshes the brain and improves the memory, research has shown.

The findings suggest it is falling asleep, not being asleep, that is beneficial.

Napping for just 10 minutes reduces drowsiness, even though most studies suggest that more sleep time is needed.

A German team has explained this anomaly by demonstrating that the mere act of falling asleep sharpens the memory.

Dr Olaf Lahl, from the University of Dusseldorf asked students to memorise a list of words and recall it after an hour spent playing solitaire.

Some of the students were allowed a five-minute catnap at the start, and they recalled significantly more words.

"It seems that much more is happening during the initialisation of sleep than we once thought," Dr Lahl told New Scientist magazine. "Maybe much of sleep's functional aspects are accomplished at its very beginning."

Dr Robert Stickgold, from Harvard University in Massachusetts, said that just before sleep, the brain "replays" recent events, producing dreamlike sensations and "crazy" thoughts, says Dr Stick-gold.

He suggests that this could explain the benefit of the power nap.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 21, 2008
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