Feeds

Kipping at your desk is highly productive, say boffins

'The hippocampus is like an email inbox'

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Splendid news for those among us who occasionally wake up with a snort at our desks, hastily wiping drool off our chins and looking around guiltily. Boffins have annouced that a brief zizz during the day enhances performance and makes people more efficient and productive.

According to Matthew Walker, a trick-cyclist out of UC Berkeley in California, your hippocampus - a section of brain involved in storing "fact-based memories" - needs to process and file away new information every so often, and it needs you to be asleep to do this.

"It's as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you're not going to receive any more mail. It's just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder," Walker said.

The prof and his colleagues say they have shown this by a recent study in which they compared two groups and their performance in "rigorous learning tasks" designed to top up the hippocampus with new info. Both groups showed similar performance in such a task undertaken just before lunch.

Then, however, in midafternoon, one group had a restorative snooze during which their hippocampi cleared their freight of facts away (into the prefrontal cortex, thought by Walker and his crew to have more storage space). The second group remained awake.

After nap-time was over the two groups tackled another task, and this time the advantage was clear. Brains refreshed, the team which had copped a swift 40 winks broached a positive barrel of whup-ass on those who had mindlessly stayed awake in the spirit of modern corporate life.

Walker says that the brain email filing activity happens during a previously poorly-understood phase of kipping known as Stage 2 non-REM sleep, which takes place between deep sleep (non-REM) and the dream state known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Previously, schlaf scientists hadn't been sure what this kind of sleep was for, but Walker thinks it has to be about hippocampus clearout.

"I can't imagine Mother Nature would have us spend 50 percent of the night going from one sleep stage to another for no reason," says the prof. "Sleep is sophisticated. It acts locally to give us what we need."

He figures now to try and tie this together with older people's loss of sleep and well-documented brain conditions such as Alzheimer's.

Meanwhile, bosses up and down the land take note: that employee slumped across his or her desk after lunch in a pool of spittle is actually to be praised for enhancing their productivity and perhaps supplied with a pillow, not stigmatised as an idle freeloader. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.