A new study from the University of Notre Dame tested sleep's effect on 207 students' success in remembering declarative information - facts and events - in semantically related or unrelated word pairs. Students learned at either 9 a.m. or 9 p.m., and underwent recall testing 30 minutes, 12 hours, or 24 hours later. While the time of day during which students learned showed no effect on memory initially, testing results after 12 hours were better in those who slept overnight versus those who spent the day awake. And in tests done 24 hours after learning, students who had slept immediately after learning demonstrated significantly greater recall of the unrelated word pairs.
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. In some sense, you may be 'telling' the sleeping brain what to consolidate.
Previously: Discussing sleep and work performance among health-care professionals, In mice, at least, uninterrupted sleep is critical for memory and Do siestas make you smarter?
Photo by Rachel Coleman Finch