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The Powerful Effect of Sleep on Learning

At A Goodnight Sleepstore, we love to keep up on the latest in sleep research. After all, the real importance of a supportive, high-quality mattress goes beyond physical comfort to ensure that you get all the benefits of deep, rejuvenating sleep.

Sleep & Memory

Thanks to the wonders of modern clinical research, we’ve known for a while that sleep has a significant impact on learning and memory for people of all ages. Deep sleep helps to cement both memories and new information so that we’re able to recall them in the future. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, prevents our memories from becoming “sticky” and impairs our ability to focus and learn efficiently.

Where Infants are Concerned

A new study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, demonstrated the impact of sleep on learning in infants. The study was designed to measure the difference in memory recall between babies who got short naps, long naps, or no naps at all. The results are another drop in the overflowing bucket of evidence attesting to the importance of sleep.

An Interesting Approach

The study, which you can read here, introduced 6-to-8-month-olds to a series of made-up objects which belonged to two different categories. Since children in this age group are pretty terrible at communicating, researchers used electroencephalograms (EEGs) to measure brain activity. The goal was to measure how well the babies were able to remember the correct word for each of the objects.

Sleep made all the difference!

The babies in the study who didn’t have a nap between learning and testing were not able to match the right words to the objects. The ones who received a 30-minute nap were able to distinguish between the right and wrong words for each object. Incredibly, those who napped for 50 minutes were able to identify the right word for an object’s category, even if it was different from the objects presented in the learning portion of the experiment. The ability of the long-nappers was on par with that of older children and adults!

Still Skeptical?

If you’re thinking, “Sure, babies need naps, but adults don’t,” we hear you. This particular study is specific to developing infants. But both learning and the creation of memoriesw are lifelong processes. Sleep is the time when new information gets filtered, organized, and stored as lasting knowledge. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need naps during the day to prevent memory loss; it does mean that you need plenty of deep sleep at night to filter all the information from your day. The evidence is there. Make of it what you will.


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