Daytime naps help boost memory and learning

Daytime naps help boost memory and learning

With the busy American lifestyle, many people are sleep deprived. While naps do not make up for an inadequate night of sleep, they can help you get through the day with more energy and focus.

New research from the University of Geneva shows that daytime naps help boost memory and learning.

The results of the study reveal that memories and ideas that are learned are further reinforced by sleep. Even a short nap after learning something can be beneficial.

Rewards may act as a kind of tag, sealing information in the brain during learning,” says lead researcher Dr. Kinga Igloi from the University of Geneva. “During sleep, that information is favourably consolidated over information associated with a low reward and is transferred to areas of the brain associated with long-term memory. Our findings are relevant for understanding the devastating effects that lack of sleep can have on achievement,” she says.

The study abstract explains the following study details:

Thirty-one healthy volunteers were randomly assigned to either a sleep group or a ‘wake’ group and the sensitivity of both groups to reward was assessed as being equal. Participants’ brains were scanned while they were trained to remember pairs of pictures. Eight series of pictures were shown and volunteers were told that remembering pairs in four of them would elicit a higher reward. Following a 90-minute break of either sleep or rest, they were tested on their memory for the pairs and asked to rate how confident they were about giving a correct answer. Participants were also asked to take part in a surprise test of exactly the same nature three months later.”

The group who slept did better overall on the tests than the group that stayed awake. The ‘sleep’ group was also more confident that they would get the correct answers on the tests, even after the 3-month follow up.

Researchers took MRI scans, which revealed higher activity of the hippocampus in the sleep group. The hippocampus is the area of the brain that is critical for making memories.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#228B22″ class=”” size=”17″]”We already knew that sleep helps strengthens memories, but we now also know that it helps us select and retain those that have a rewarding value,” says Igloi. “It makes adaptive sense that the consolidation of memory should work to prioritise information that is critical to our success and survival.” [/pullquote]The study showing that daytime naps help boost memory and learning was published in the journal eLIFE.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only.

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1. “A Nap to Recap or How Reward Regulates Hippocampal-prefrontal Memory Networks during Daytime Sleep in Humans.” ELife. ELife, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
2. “How Reward and Daytime Sleep Boost Learning.” EurekAlert! ELife, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
3. “A Nap to Recap: How Reward, Daytime Sleep Boost Learning.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
4. “Napping.” National Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

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