Taking a nap to improve learning

Is nappy only beneficial to toddlers? Apparently not! A new study shows that young adults who sleep 90 minutes after lunch increase their learning power, apparently preparing their memory to absorb new information.

Is nappy only beneficial to toddlers? Apparently not! A new study shows that young adults who sleep 90 minutes after lunch increase their learning power, apparently preparing their memory to absorb new information.

Earlier studies have indicated that sleep helps consolidate memorized information after a period of cramming, but the new study suggests that sleep can actually restore the ability to learn.

For this study, 39 healthy young adults were divided into two groups. They were asked to memorize one hundred names and faces by noon, and then to learn another hundred names and faces by 6 p.m. The twenty volunteers who napped between the two learning sessions improved their scores by an average of 10 percent after sleeping, while the scores of those who didn’t nap actually dropped by 10 percent.

A hypothesis that could explain these results is that sleep is necessary in order to “empty” our short-term memory bank and make room for new data. According to this hypothesis, the information acquired is temporarily stored in the hippocampus (an area of the brain) before being transferred to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which has a greater capacity for memory. This transfer is thought to occur only in a specific phase of sleep. Electroencephalograms, which are tests that measure electric brain activity, show that this renewal of our memory capacity occurs at a precise phase of light sleep that takes place between deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep.

Therefore, students, don’t hesitate to set aside some napping time between study sessions in order to maximize your learning abilities… and perhaps even your school grades!

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