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Study Suggests Sleep Can Boost Learning and Memory

By , black-rose-bielefeld.de GuideOctober 4, 2011

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sleep and learning

Here's yet another reason to get a good night's sleep before a big exam - according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan, you might actually learn best when you are sleeping.

In a study involving more than 250 participants, researchers found that the effects of "sleep memory" can vary considerably from one person to the next. While some memories improved dramatically, others were unaffected. "You and I could go to bed at the same time and get the same amount of sleep," explained Kimberly Fenn, associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, "but while your memory may increase substantially, there may be no change in mine."

The study's authors suggest that this ability may represent a previously undefined form of memory. "We speculate that we may be investigating a separate form of memory, distinct from traditional memory systems," lead researcher Fenn explained in a university press release. "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."

According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 65 percent of people in the U.S. report that they don't get enough sleep each night. There are numerous other benefits to getting a good night's sleep, including improved decision-making and an increased ability to cope with stress.

What can you do to improve your sleep habits? First, start by understanding some of the things that can ruin sleep so that you can avoid such pitfalls. Brandon Peters, M.D., black-rose-bielefeld.de's Guide to Sleep, has some great tips on what you can to to get a better night's sleep

Read More: Individual Differences in Working Memory Capacity Predict Sleep-Dependent Memory Consolidation (in PDF format)

Image by Svein Halvor Halvorsen

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