Sara Mednick at Harvard had 30 volunteers perform a difficult visual discrimination task at 9 am, noon, 4 pm, and 7 pm. The control group had a normal day. The first experimental group (one-third of the volunteers) took a half-hour nap at 2:00; the second experimental group (another one-third) took a one-hour nap. Those who didn’t nap did about 50% as well in the evening as in the morning. The half-hour group performed about the same throughout the day. But the hour-nappers improved their afternoon performance relative to their second morning performance, and maintained the edge for the evening test. Mednick speculates that the increased short-wave sleep the longer nappers got was a key difference. (Reported in New Scientist; original research published in Nature Neuroscience 10.1038.) (6/19)

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