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Napping Just as Good as Cramming for Last Minute Studying
“Don’t stress yourself out just cramming some information into your head. Taking a nap is just as good,” says an academic sleep researchers about a recent study.
I remember cramming for finals back in college. No stranger to procrastination, I pulled many an all-nighter, yet somehow, still managed to get good grades. According to a new study, I wasted my time. I would have done just as well, maybe even better, if I had gotten some sleep instead. Not only that, but a little sleep may have helped me retain what I learned longer.
We think of napping as a passive, lazy disregarded for our responsibilities. If we see a student we know who has a midterm looming, taking a nap, we think he or she is goofing off. But the brain processes information while we sleep, making a nap an essential part of the studying process.
Whether or not teachers, professors, or parents will see it that way is another matter. Dr. James Cousins was the study’s lead author. He and fellow researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, discovered that napping could help achieve scholastic success. Cousin’s advice to students, “Don’t stress yourself out just cramming some information into your head. Taking a nap is just as good.” Here’s some more fuel for the argument. Einstein, John F. Kennedy, and Winston Churchill are among history’s most famous nappers, each of them choosing to snooze in the afternoon.
Cousins and his team recruited 72 student volunteers, to find out which activity was better to take part in right before an exam. Participants sat through lectures regarding different crab and ant species. The students learned about each creature’s diet, what climate they lived in, and their habitat. Next, the volunteers were given an 80 minute period during which time they could choose to study, watch a movie, or take a nap. Another 80 minutes of lecture followed. Then, students were given an exam containing 360 questions, covering all the material they had learned.
More an Americans, especially students run on a serious sleep deficit nowadays, hurting their health and cognition.
Those who napped during their free period ended up getting higher test scores than both other groups, Dr. Cousins said. A second exam was given to the same students one week later, and once again nappers scored highest. Meanwhile, crammers did better than movie watchers on the first test. But on the second, the two groups’ scores were nearly identical. “It could indicate that cramming information might be good in the short term,” Cousins said. “But in the long run, the benefits might not be that great.”
A 2015 study out of Brandeis University, discovered that memory neurons inside the brain store short-term memories in our long-term memory banks. This process occurs while we are asleep. Though sleep is still largely a mystery, it is thought that memory neurons are the ones that put us to asleep. Since the brain cannot consolidate new information without it, learning without proper sleep in its aftermath is difficult. So our memory and learning capability are very much dependent on a good night’s rest.
This comes in an era when Americans report rampant sleep deprivation, teens especially. Running on a sleep deficit is terrible for mood, hormone production, the immune system, and learning. In fact, one study found that a lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of forming false memories, undermining a student’s best efforts.
Hammering information in your brain may make some sense. “With any memory, the more you recall it, the stronger the memory trace,” Cousins told the New Scientist. But sleep helps the memory consolidate learning. Those who aren’t well rested may actually be sabotaging their own efforts. More research is necessary, as statistically speaking, there wasn’t much difference between nappers and crammers. Napping was as effective as cramming according to the data, but may be even more so.
How would you feel if you knew that napping on the job was alright? For Dr. Cousins and his colleagues, it’s a reality. The researcher said a nap during the afternoon slump, which for most people is around two or three o’clock, is the best thing to recharge your batteries and imprint whatever you’ve learned. In his lab, “Napping is encouraged,” Cousins said.
To learn more about the power of sleep, click here:
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.