Don’t skip getting enough sleep tonight if you want to remember today’s lessons, according to new research published in the current issue of Nature Neuroscience.
The study found people who get a good night’s sleep after learning a simple skill perform better when tested on the same skill days later. Those findings lend support to the notion that sleep is important in memory development and learning.
For the study, researchers asked 24 college students to identify diagonal bars as they flickered on a computer screen during a 60- to 90-minute training session. Half of the students agreed to remain awake until 9 the next evening. The others slept as usual.
Researchers re-tested both groups three days after their initial training. Despite two nights of unlimited catch-up sleep, the students in the sleep-deprived group showed no improvement on the visual test, says Robert Stickgold, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study.
The students in the control group, however, proved to be approximately 25% faster than they had been during the training session.