(Information summarized from Scipps Howard News Service—Star Tribune
article Nov 24, 2000)
need to “sleep on it” to effectively learn, according to a Harvard
Medical School study.
research (published by Nature Neuroscience journal), adds evidence
that sleep is needed for learning; denying sleep the night after
learning a new task seems to muddle memory consolidation.
found that NO amount of sleep on the following two nights can make up
for the toll of an all-nighter.
sleep that first night if you want to improve on the task,” according
to Robert Stickgold, lead author of the study.
important for maintaining attention and alertness when we’re trying to
learn. But scientists at Harvard and elsewhere have found that the
process of turning information form a short-term to a long-term,
useful memory seems to require getting a good night’s sleep.
Specifically, brain-imaging tests and other experiments point to a
chemical released during dreaming that passes messages between brain
cells and seem to consolidate memory.
earlier experiment, Stickgold and colleagues found that people who
learned a task did not improve their performance when tested later the
same day, but did do better remembering it after a night of sleep.
that getting that first night’s sleep starts the process of memory
consolidation. It seems that memories normally wash out of the brain
unless some process nails them down. My suspicion is that sleep is one
of those things that does the nailing down,” said Stickgold.