Having trouble remembering that important speech or recalling what you need to pick up at the grocery store? It turns out that boosting your memory might be as simple as taking a nap.
Researchers have found that those who take a nap and dream about a task they have just learned do better at performing it later than those who don’t nap or non-dreamers.
Nappers took far less time to solve mazes
Participants in a study published in Current Biology were asked to learn the layout of a complex 3D maze that was displayed on a computer screen. Five hours later they were asked to find their way through the 3D maze from a random starting point.
Those participants who were allowed to take a 90-minute nap between, and who reported dreaming about the maze task during their nap, were able to find their way through the maze in significantly less time… scoring on average 10 times higher. Four of the maze dreamers managed to cut their completion time in half!
Scientists think that the task-related dreams indicate that the person’s brain is trying to resolve a problem on more than one level. The dreams are the brain’s way of trying to find associations and connections that you might not think of when awake that could make the memories more useful to you later.
Put the shut-eye memory trick to work for YOU
So how can we use this to help improve our own memory?
The simplest way to take advantage of our brain’s tendency to do this memory-related-dreaming is to save studying and learning tasks to right before you go to sleep. Or plan in a nap after a study session. Then review the materials again after your nap to improve your learning and recall.
The leading neuroscientist on the study, Dr. Stickgold, also suggested that trying to get excited about the task is the best way to assure that you dream about it later.
Of course this leaves me wondering if daily nap-time at my desk is going a bit too far.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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