Who is Sara Mednick?
Sara C. Mednick is a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside. Her research focuses on the relationship between napping and performance. She is the author of several papers and a mass market book, Take a Nap! Change Your Life.
Mednick contends that humans have a biological need for an afternoon nap. "There's actually biological dips in our rhythm and in our alertness that seem to go along with the natural state of the way we used to be, probably from way back when we were allowed to nap more regularly," she told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America.
"There is something very specific about the timing of the nap," she is quoted as saying in The Times. "It should be at about 2pm or 3pm. It's the time when most humans and animals experience what is called a post-prandial dip or low ebb. It's a dip in cogno-processing and physiological responses, when a lot of us actually do feel sleepy."
Coffee is an inferior substitute, Mednick believes. "In all of my research, what I found is that when I have people not drink caffeine but take a nap instead, they actually perform much better on a wide range of memory tasks," she told Neil Conan on NPR's Talk of the Nation. A video of her short Science Network lecture on nap research, at the Salk Institute in February 2007, can be viewed online.
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