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The impact of frequent napping and nap practice on sleep-dependent memory in humans

  • Author(s): McDevitt, Elizabeth A
  • Sattari, Negin
  • Duggan, Katherine A
  • Cellini, Nicola
  • Whitehurst, Lauren N
  • Perera, Chalani
  • Reihanabad, Nicholas
  • Granados, Samantha
  • Hernandez, Lexus
  • Mednick, Sara C
  • et al.
Abstract

Napping benefits long-term memory formation and is a tool many individuals use to improve daytime functioning. Despite its potential advantages, approximately 47% of people in the United States eschew napping. The goal of this study was to determine whether people who endorse napping at least once a week (nap+) show differences in nap outcomes, including nap-dependent memory consolidation, compared with people who rarely or never nap (nap-). Additionally, we tested whether four weeks of nap practice or restriction would change sleep and performance profiles. Using a perceptual learning task, we found that napping enhanced performance to a greater degree in nap+ compared with nap- individuals (at baseline). Additionally, performance change was associated with different electrophysiological sleep features in each group. In the nap+ group, spindle density was positively correlated with performance improvement, an effect specific to spindles in the hemisphere contralateral to the trained visual field. In the nap- group, slow oscillatory power (0.5-1 Hz) was correlated with performance. Surprisingly, no changes to performance or brain activity during sleep emerged after four weeks of nap practice or restriction. These results suggest that individual differences may impact the potential benefits of napping on performance and the ability to become a better napper.

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