Nap increases memory

A recent study found that napping improves memory of new tasks. See below for specifics. What is interesting to me is if napping improved encoding (writing to memory) or recall (retrieval of information from memory). Also, if certain tasks are better than others (e.g. audio vs visual vs tactile).

For the full report, check out 60 second science

If you feel the urge to lay your head down on the desk for an afternoon nap, here’s something to tell your boss: a 90 minute snooze will actually help you remember that new task you just learned. Researchers at the University of Haifa published the results of their nap study in the journal Nature Neuroscience. They tested two groups—each was asked to learn to bring their thumb and finger together in a specific sequence. One took a 90-minute nap afterwards, the other didn’t. The group that slept had learned the sequence better by nightfall. By morning the two groups had evened out, but researchers say the nappers improved more rapidly the next day.

Then the scientists took another two groups. Both learned two different thumb-to-finger sequences over a few hours. One group took a nap in between the two tasks. At night-time, there was no difference between the groups. But by the morning, the nappers had learned the first task better. Scientists say this shows siestas help engrave new tasks into our long-term memory. Turns out that if you snooze, you win.

–Cynthia Graber


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