Written by Larisa A. White
Have you ever wished that you could simply place a textbook under your pillow, and have all the information you need just seep into your brain while you sleep? My college roommate swore that it worked. And I mocked her for it. But as it turns out, there was some truth to her madness.
Though there is still some debate about which phase of sleep is most important for learning which types of skills, most of the recent journal articles** on the role of sleep in learning agree on one thing: The transfer of new information and skills, from working memory into long-term memory, happens while we sleep. Not only that, but the time spent sleeping allows your brain to optimize how and where you store that new knowledge in your brain, and can actually improve your skill level while you sleep!
BEAUTY AND BRAINS IN ONE EASY STEP!
Even a nap — after a successful study session — will help you retain knowledge and skills mastered during your study time and practice, but a solid 8 hours will help much more, since it is only in the deep, NREM and REM sleep cycles (which mostly happen during the second half of an 8-hour sleep) that you gain the effortless improvement of skills that my old roommate bragged about.
So, more sleep, less cramming, and better test scores…
What are you waiting for?
* Photos in this post are protected by a creative commons attribution license:
“TeddyBearNapping” is by Larisa A. White
** For those interested in the research behind this post, check out:
Walker, Matthew P. (2005) “A refined model of sleep and the time course of memory formation,” in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, v. 28, pp. 51-104