How Sleep Enhances Studying

Posted on January 6, 2017

Photo: flickr

There are many situations in which you have to learn new things that you will need to recall later. When you are a student, there is material for classes that you study to prepare for recalling that information on exams (and hopefully later in life as well). As an adult, there are often new facts you need to remember at work, in volunteer organizations, and for your hobbies.

Extensive research on memory has proven that distributing your practice helps you learn. In other words, the more that you spread out your study time, the better you are likely to remember information later, compared to cramming all of your study time into one session.

Research has also been done to show association between sleeping and learning. Results suggest that if you study new material and then sleep, you remember the information better than if you study new material and stay awake for an equivalent amount of time.

What happens when you combine these concepts? That is, does it matter whether you sleep in between the study sessions you do?
This question was addressed in a paper in the October 2016 issue of Psychological Science by Stephanie Mazza, Emilie Bergier, Marie-Paule Gustin, Zumrut Kasikci, Olivier Koenig, Thomas Toppino, and Michel Magnin.

Three groups (Control group, Sleep group and No Sleep group) of participants were tested and all of them studied a list of 16 Swahili words and had to give their translation.
Results demonstrated the importance of sleep. Sleep group and Control group both remembered the words better 12 hours later than the No Sleep group. That is, consistent with previous research, sleeping after a study session leads to better recall than not sleeping.

This research suggests that spreading out your study time benefits learning, but you should make sure that you sleep in between study sessions. Sleep is well-known to help consolidate memories. When you sleep before you study a second time, you are giving yourself a chance to allow sleep to consolidate your memories twice—once after the first study session and again after the second.

To read the full article, please click on link below.

Category(s):Academic Issues

Source material from Psychology Today

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