Naps prevent burnout
We should stop feeling guilty about taking that “power nap” at work or catching those extra winks the night before our piano recital, according to new research (Nature Neuroscience 2002;5:618-9, 677-81, July).
Sara Mednick and colleagues show that “burnout”--irritation, frustration, and poorer performance on a mental task--sets in as a day of training wears on. Subjects performed a visual task, reporting the horizontal or vertical orientation of three diagonal bars against a background of horizontal bars in the lower left corner of a computer screen. Their scores on the task worsened over the course of four daily practice sessions. Allowing subjects a 30 minute nap after the second session prevented any further deterioration, and a 1 hour nap actually boosted performance in the third and fourth sessions back to morning levels.
Rather than generalised fatigue, the researchers suspected that the burnout was limited to just the brain visual system circuits