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The 5 minute trick to speeding up your brain

Anastasia Santoreneos
·2-min read
Beautiful woman taking break for short sleep in middle of day at home
Beautiful woman taking break for short sleep in middle of day at home

As little as five minutes of afternoon napping can lead to better mental agility, a new study has revealed.

While science has long linked sleep to brain power, the trick is when you sleep.

An afternoon nap is found to help people have strong locational awareness, verbal fluency and working memory, research published in online journal General Psychiatry revealed.

The research studied more than 2,200 healthy people over the age of 60 in cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Xian - 1,500 of which took afternoon raps regularly, and 680 which didn’t.

Each participant underwent a series of health checks and cognitive assessments to see if they had dementia, with participants who napped showing higher cognitive performance scores compared to those who didn’t.

While the specific amount of napping varied, a nap was considered to be at least 5 minutes long but no longer than 2 hours.

While the exact reason as to why napping led to better mental agility couldn’t be pinned down, the scientists did land on one theory.

Inflammatory chemicals lead to sleep disorders, and high levels of inflammation lead to adverse events like cognitive impairment.

But interestingly, napping in the afternoon seemed to reduce inflammation.

"Sleep regulates the body's immune response and napping is thought to be an evolved response to inflammation; people with higher levels of inflammation also nap more often," the researchers explained.

Extra 29 minutes of sleep

If you’re not an afternoon napper, a different sleep study found sleeping an extra 29 minutes per night could increase your next-day mindfulness, which in turn leads to better focus, daily well-being and performance.

The Sleep Health study followed 61 nurses for two weeks, and found their “mindful attention” was greater than usual after a night of greater sleep sufficiency, better sleep quality and around 29 minutes longer of sleep duration.

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