Saturday, September 23, 2006

Students who fall asleep score better

Quick naps improve memory. Mathew Tucker at The City University of New York has shown that nightime sleep, as well as daytime naps, improve retention (Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, vol 86, p 241).

Learners were asked to learn pairs of words and were tested immediately, then 6 hours later with a nap in-between. The ‘nappers’ scored 15% higher than the ‘non-nappers’ on the factual test.

There’s something quite interesting emerging in these empirical studies of memory. It would seem that significant increases in retention, perhaps the most fundamental aspect of learning, can come through simple adjustments and additional techniques. With a simple understanding of how knowledge and skills are acquired, stored, rehearsed and recalled, we could make significant advances in productivity.

It is clear that daytime napping is good for the retention of knowledge so I look forward to compulsory naps at school and after training courses. In my experience, in most classroom courses, this happens without much prompting!


Anonymous said...

I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that the subconscious mind attends to its "filing" while we're asleep, sifting through recent events. Aspects of vivid dreams can often be traced back to identifiable sources, as the brain churns over earlier ground. This would explain the results of the tests.

Besides, I have always felt that there is something eminently civilised about the Spanish approach to business with the two-hour siesta-included lunch break and later closing. I'm not sure how widely it is still practised, but it was certainly followed by the Spanish branch of my previous employer less than two years ago.

But the value of the power nap is not new knowledge. My grandfather was a great powernapper. As a government support officer to subsistence farmers, he spent a lot of time on the road, and would often park up mid afternoon to catch just 3 or 4 minutes of shuteye, continuing much refreshed thereafter.

Donald Clark said...

Curiously the resaerch linking deep sleep/REM and memory is messy and contradictory. This recent study focusses on non-REM napping.

For example, Crick and Michison (1983; 1995) even claim that REM sleep clears up spurious associations formed during waking behavior. In Crick's words, "we dream to forget."

Anonymous said...

Really sweet.zzzz

Unknown said...

Some of my former pupils used a variation of this technique: they fell asleep during the lesson!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Francis! But I think it has less to do with their technique and more to do with YOURS!