In a study published in 2008, the University of California’s Sara Mednick – author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life – and her colleagues compared the benefits of 200mg of caffeine (about the amount in a cup of coffee) with a 60 to 90 minute daytime nap on various memory tasks. They found that a nap generally improved memory performance, while caffeine either didn’t affect – or worsened – performance. The researchers suggest that caffeine blocks consolidation of new material into long-term memory by increasing levels of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine in the hippocampus (the same neurotransmitter that naturally decreases during slow wave sleep).
The promised benefits of sleep have even persuaded a few firms to allow their employees to nap at work. Earlier this year, software company HubSpot designed a napping room in its Massachusetts office that features a hammock and dim lighting. Employees are free to book the space without limitations.
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