Sleeping after you Learn will Help you Remember

Sleeping after you Learn will Help you Remember

Professor Jessica Payne from the (Credit: Notre Dame Department of Psychology)

Leran – Sleep (Credit: University of Notre Dame)
Researchers from the University of Notre Dame discovered that going to sleep after learning new information might be the best way to learn new information.
Professor Jessica Payne from the Notre Dame Department of Psychology and her colleagues conducted a research involving over 200 students who slept for six hours or more each night. During the research each student  was asked to memorize both semantically related or unrelated word pairs and was then tested on what they had learned after half an hour, 12 hours and 24 hours later.
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When tested after 12-hour, the results of the memory test turned out better than after a full day of wakefulness. It also appears that students memories were better when sleep occurred just after learning and not after a full day of wakefulness. According to Professor Payne: “Our study confirms that sleeping directly after learning something new is beneficial for memory. What’s novel about this study is that we tried to shine light on sleep’s influence on both types of declarative memory by studying semantically unrelated and related word pairs. Since we found that sleeping soon after learning benefited both types of 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.”
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In 2010 Professor Payne gave a short video talk explaining the importance of sleep to children and some of the consequences and problems resulting from the lack of sufficient sleep.  According to Professor Payne sleep is as essential to the human body just as eating,  berating or exercising correctly. Sleeping allows us to process new information  we learn, find new connections and be creative. Children who do not sleep enough (something very common these days in the age of TV and computers) are not only effecting their ability to learn but also tend to be less creative.
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More information on Professor Payne recent research can be found on the Notre Dame University website.
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TFOT previously covered the important work of Professor Francesco Cappuccio. According to his research sleep deprivation can double the chances of dying from a cardiovascular event. However, too much sleep appears to be even more dangerous for us, more than doubling the likelihood of dying from other causes. Another related research covered by TFOT in 2010 was conducted by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, who found the way in which our biological system knows to operate on a 24-hour cycle. This discovery, in the form of a single tiny molecule, holds the clue to the solution of a mystery that biologists considered unanswered for many years.
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About the author

Iddo Genuth

Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.

View all articles by Iddo Genuth