ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Majority of College Students Report Backpack-Related Pain
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
CANCER
Get to Know the Pap Test
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
CAREGIVING
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
EYE CARE, VISION
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Can You Talk Your Way to Happy?
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
The Unmedicated Mind
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
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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