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Meditation vs. Nap

December 14, 2005

Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, alleviate pain, and treat some mental and physical illnesses. Now a new study suggests that meditation may be performance-enhancing, too.


Meditate to stay awake. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Meditation beats a nap for curing that mid-afternoon slump. That’s according to neuroscientist Bruce O’Hara from the University of Kentucky. He and his student Prashant Kaul tested vounteers’ alertness before and after 40 minutes of meditation in the mid-afternoon, when people are generally drowsy. They found meditation made people much more vigilant. Compare that to people who napped for 40 minutes—he says their scores went down because they were groggy for an hour or more after their nap.

BRUCE O’HARA (University of Kentucky):
The so-called power nap of 10 or 20 minutes is probably not a real nap. People may not really enter sleep, and I would actually perhaps argue that what they’re really getting is the meditative state, if you will.

He says most of his volunteers had never meditated before, so even novice meditators can see benefits.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.