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Sleep Learning Improves Memory

In recent years, psychologists have found mounting evidence that sleep aids learning by consolidating certain kinds of memory.

In a new study, Michigan State University researchers found that individual differences in conscious and sleeping memory processes seem to be related. This suggests, according to lead researcher Dr. Kimberly Fenn, a fundamental underlying ability, “a separate form of memory, distinct from traditional memory systems.”

“There is substantial evidence that during sleep, your brain is processing information without your awareness and this ability may contribute to memory in a waking state.”

During the study of more than 250 people, Fenn and her collegues noted that people derive vastly different effects from this “sleep memory” ability. For some, memories are improved dramatically, while for others, not at all.

“You and I could go to bed at the same time and get the same amount of sleep,” Fenn said, “but while your memory may increase substantially, there may be no change in mine.”

Fenn said she believes this potential separate memory ability is not being captured by traditional intelligence tests and aptitude tests such as the SAT and ACT.

“This is the first step to investigate whether or not this potential new memory construct is related to outcomes such as classroom learning,” she said.

The study unequivocally reinforces the need for a good night’s sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people are sleeping less every year, with 63 percent of Americans saying their sleep needs are not being met during the week.

“Simply improving your sleep could potentially improve your performance in the classroom,” Fenn said.

The research findings are found in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Source: Michigan State University

Sleep Learning Improves Memory

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Sleep Learning Improves Memory. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/09/28/sleep-learning-improves-memory/29852.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.