We all run out of steam from time to time at work. Usually we just fight through it with a third cup of coffee, but there may be a better idea: Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center recently discovered that short naps may improve the function of the right brain.

Researchers monitored the brain activity of 15 individuals and found that the right side of their brain—the part that controls intuition and creative tasks like visualization—remained busy while napping. Meanwhile, the left side of the brain, which controls analytical skills and language processing, was quiet.

According to study author Andrei Medvedev, the right brain may be handling a range of important "housecleaning" tasks during naps, such as the formation of long-term memories. The study's findings support the growing notion that naps greatly improve the function of the brain, and it also puts scientists one step closer to fully understanding the beneficial powers of sleep.

"Emerging scientific evidence suggests that naps—even very short ones—significantly enhance cognitive function," said Dr. Jonathan Friedman, director of the Texas Brain and Spine Institute. "Increasing understanding of how sleep improves brain function may someday allow us to harness this effect."


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