Brian Sullivan

Successful study habits should include plenty of napping,
reports Cell Biology. People who take a nap and dream about what they just learned perform it better upon waking than people who don’t nap or  don’t report any associated dreams

It seems that napping helps commit learnimn to memory while dreaming.

Volunteers were asked to learn the layout of a 3D computer maze so they could find their way within the virtual space several hours later, reports the BBC. Those allowed to take a nap and who also remembered dreaming of the task, found their way to a landmark quicker.

The researchers think the dreams are a sign that unconscious parts of the brain are working hard to process information about the task.

Dreams may be a marker that the brain is working on the same problem at multple levels, saidstudy coauthor Dr Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School.

"The dreams might reflect the brain's attempt to find associations for the memories that could make them more useful in the future" he said.

While we know that postlearning sleep is beneficial for human memory performance, human and animal
studies show that learning-related neural activity is re-expressed during posttraining nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep

NREM sleep processes appear to be particularly beneficial for hippocampus-dependent forms of memory

This suggests that learning triggers the reactivation and reorganization of memory traces during sleep not expeirenced in wakefulness, claimed the report, a systems-level process that in turn enhances behavioral performance.

Afternoon Nap for Afternoon study?

The study suggests our non-conscious brain works on the things that it deems are most important, stated Dr Erin Wamsley in the BBC.

"Every day we are gathering and encountering tremendous amounts of information and new experiences," she said.

"It would seem that our dreams are asking the question, 'How do I use this information to inform my life?"

Perhaps we can take advantageof a simple afternoon nap to improve the results of some afternoon study.
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