New research from experts at the University of Notre Dame has discovered that going to sleep soon after learning new information is the best way for an individual to recall what he or she had just learned.
According to Asian News International (ANI) reports, Notre Dame psychologist Jessica Payne and her colleagues analyzed a total of 207 students who regularly slept for a minimum of six hours each night.
Each participant was randomly assigned to study declarative, semantically related, or unrelated word pairs at either 9:00am or 9:00pm, and was then tested on what they had learned 30 minutes, 12 hours, or 24 hours later.
“At the 12-hour retest, memory overall was superior following a night of sleep compared to a day of wakefulness. However, this performance difference was a result of a pronounced deterioration in memory for unrelated word pairs; there was no sleep-wake difference for related word pairs,” the university said in a Thursday press release.
“At the 24-hour retest, with all subjects having received both a full night of sleep and a full day of wakefulness, subjects’ memories were superior when sleep occurred shortly after learning, rather than following a full day of wakefulness,” they added, noting that declarative memory refers to the ability to consciously remember facts and events, and is broken down into semantic and episodic memory for each, respectively.
The results of Payne’s study were published in the March 22 edition of the journal PLoS One.
“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,” Payne said in a statement.
“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,” she added. “In some sense, you may be ‘telling’ the sleeping brain what to consolidate.”