ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
CANCER
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
CAREGIVING
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
Antioxidants Abound in Cereals, Popcorn, Whole-Grain Snacks
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Global Warming May Bring More Respiratory Woes
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
EYE CARE, VISION
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
FITNESS
Run for Your Life
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
Swine Flu May Pose Problems for Pregnant Women
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Add your Article

Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter

Want to ace that next test? Try taking a mid-afternoon siesta.

While the findings are preliminary, new research raises the prospect that sleep, specifically a lengthy afternoon nap, prepares the brain to remember things. Think of it as similar to rebooting a computer to get it to work more smoothly.

"Sleep is not just for the body. It's very much for the brain," said study author Matthew Walker, an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Walker and colleagues divided 39 young adults into two groups. At noon, all the participants took part in a memory exercise that required them to remember faces and link them with names. Then the researchers took part in another memory exercise at 6 p.m., after 20 had napped for 100 minutes during the break.

Those who remained awake performed about 10 percent worse on the tests than those who napped, Walker said.

There's one more twist: People's ability to learn declines about 10 percent between noon and 6 p.m. normally, but the nappers were able to negate that decline.

The structure of the study suggests that a phase of non-dreaming sleep that the nappers went through is boosting memory, he said.

"This is further evidence that sleep plays a critical role in the processing of memories," he said. "It provides more evidence that it's not just important to sleep after learning, but you need it before learning to prepare the brain for laying down information."

But it's important to sleep long enough to give the brain an opportunity to go through various cycles of sleep, he said. Using electroencephalogram tests to track electrical activity in the brain, the researchers determined that memory-refreshing seems to occur between deep sleep and the dream state, called rapid eye movement or REM.

"The brain's ability to soak up information is not always stable," Walker said. "It seems as though the brain's capacity may be a little like a sponge. It may get waterlogged with continued learning throughout the day."

Jessica Payne, an assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame, said the study findings "really add to something we already know about why sleep is important."

One message from the research, she said, is that sleep can be valuable for "students and for people who are struggling with their memory because they're aging."

Other recent research has suggested that sleep can help you think more creatively, have better long-term memory and preserve important memories.

The study findings were scheduled to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

SOURCES: Matthew Walker, assistant professor, psychology and neuroscience, University of California at Berkeley; Jessica Payne, assistant professor, psychology, University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Feb. 21, 2010, presentation, American Association of the Advancement of Science annual meeting, San Diego Published on: February 21, 2010