Is Better Performance Just a Dream Away?

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July 2, 2009

According to a recent article in the New York Times , researchers from the University of California, San Diego, found a correlation between naps containing a significant amount of rapid eye movement (REM) and performance levels. The study placed volunteers under certain sleep conditions and recorded their results on word-association tests in the morning and evening. They found that the group that did not nap mid-day had the lowest scores while those who napped without REM sleep had slightly higher scores on their evening test. The volunteers whose naps included REM sleep had nearly a 40 percent increase on the evening test. REM, or "active" sleep, is when our brains are active and dreaming occurs. Why is dreaming so important? Assistant Professor Sara C. Mednick told the New York Times , "They incorporate strange ideas that you would never have put together in waking life. In REM sleep, it becomes more likely that ideas might come together in a solution."