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Want to improve your memory? Sleep on it!


Woman relaxing/sleeping in grass happy

Credit: iStock

It’s one thing to spend time learning a new thing but how do you retain that new information the next day, let alone three months later? Well according to a new study grabbing some sleep immediately after learning changes brain functions and will improve your retention of what you have learned for the long term.

The study involved subjects trained to remember pairs of pictures. The subjects were randomly assigned to either sleep after the training or just relax for 90 minutes. After the 90-minute break, they were tested on their memory for the pairs and asked to rate how confident they were about giving a correct answer.

According to a new study, grabbing some sleep immediately after learning changes brain functions and will improve your retention of what you have learned for the long term.

The results showed that people who had slept did better overall and then three months later when given a surprise test, the subjects who had slept did better again.

When the brains of the subjects were examined using MRI scans those who got some sleep showed greater activity in the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for forming memories. The sleep group also more bursts of brain activity called slow spindles that are involved in memory consolidation. Additionally, those in the sleep group showed greater connectivity between the hippocampus, the medial prefrontal cortex and the striatum, all areas of the brain involved in sleep processing.

So if you want to remember something, even three months later, the strategy is to sleep on it.



 

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.