Sleeping directly after learning something new is beneficial for memory… this means that it would be a good thing to rehearse any information you need to remember just prior to going to bed.
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) July 25, 2012
Napping in class might not impress the teacher, but going to sleep shortly after learning new material is most beneficial for recall, according to a new study. Adding to the growing body of research claiming that sleep boosts memory ability, the research has proven that sleep helps convert new information to longer-term memories.
The study, led by University of Notre Dame Psychologist Jessica Pane, was published in June edition of the open journal PLoS One. The research team examined 207 students who regularly slept for at least six hours each night. Participants were assigned to learn various sets of word pairs which corresponded to different types of memory. The volunteers first learned the material at either 9 a.m. or 9 p.m. and returned for testing after 30 minutes, then again after 12 hours and for a final time 24 hours later. Researchers were trying to determine whether time of day had an impact on learning, especially if students slept shortly afterwards.
Researchers found that sleep improves memory recall when learning new material by converting the new information to long-term memories. Sleep had a different effect whether the words were semantically related or unrelated. While memory for related word pairs was not affected by how soon students slept after learning, memory for unrelated word pairs was stronger if students went to sleep after learning new material.
“Our study confirms that sleeping directly after learning something new is beneficial for memory… this means that it would be a good thing to rehearse any information you need to remember just prior to going to bed. In some sense, you may be ‘telling’ the sleeping brain what to consolidate.” said Payne.
Director of the Sleep to Live Institute Dr. Robert Oexman agreed. Dr. Oexman said students shouldn’t skip sleep to score high on a test. “Cramming,” or trying to learn a large amount of new information at once, is not effective, he said.
“It’s always more beneficial to get a good night’s sleep rather than spending hours staying awake staring at notes that you will not remember,” said Dr. Oexman “ Research also shows that students who get less than 6 hours of sleep have lower GPA's. This is because sleep is as important to learning as exercise is to physical stamina. We know that learning takes a time commitment – so does sleep. You can’t cheat the system.”
Even though college students are among the most sleep-deprived people, they should make sure to get adequate sleep, said Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute’s Dr. Dan Naim.
“Research from the National Institute of Health proves that lack of quality sleep can lead to lower grades, particularly for those who abuse prescription stimulant medications,” said Dr. Naim. “Getting adequate sleep is an important component of achieving success not only as a student but in all walks of life.”
Experts agree that whether a person wants to succeed in school, be well prepared for work, or simply to improve mood and general well-being, sleep is essential.
The PLoS one study, “Memory for Semantically Related and Unrelated Declarative Information: The Benefit of Sleep, the Cost of Wake” can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0033079