Boost Your Learning By Rewarding Yourself With A Nap

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Nx86xdrewssexybody-3Written by: Kirsten Cowart

Are you trying to learn something new? A new study has found that if you reward your hard work by taking a nap, then you are much more likely to learn the information and be able to retain it longer.  

The University of Geneva who is publishing their research in the journal eLife found that memories that are associated with getting a reward cement easier in your brain. They also found that short daytime naps can increase recall and boost confidence.  

Rewards And Sleep Work Together To Increase Your Ability To Remember

“Rewards may act as a kind of tag, sealing information in the brain during learning,” says Dr. Kinga Igloi, the Lead Researcher from the University of Geneva.

“During sleep, that information is favourably consolidated over information associated with a low reward and is transferred to areas of the brain associated with long-term memory.

“Our findings are relevant for understanding the devastating effects that lack of sleep can have on achievement,” she says.

Volunteers Who Took Naps Had Great Recall Even 3 Months After

31 volunteers were assigned to two groups, either a ‘sleep’ or a ‘wake’ group. Both groups were found to respond and perform well with rewards as memory aids. Each group was working to remember 8 groups of pictures that were shown to them.  

The volunteers were rewarded a higher amount if they could remember pairs of pictures in 4 of the groups. After a 90 minute break of sleep or rest, the test subjects were tested again on the pictures to see how good their memories were. They were also asked to report how confident they felt about their ability to give a correct answer.

There were also given surprise tests with the same pictures 3 months later to see if the napping helped them remember the information long term.

Both groups performances were high when more rewards were offered. The group that got to nap were the best able to remember the series of pictures they had been shown 3 months prior.  

The confidence levels in those who slept were also higher than those who didn’t nap.

MRI Scans Give Insight Into The Brain When Memories Are Formed

MRI scans were performed on the test subjects and they found that those who slept had more activity in their hippocampus area of the brain, which helps with the forming memory.  

Those who took a nap during the initial test had increased connectivity between the hippocampus and the other areas that are associated with memory and reward processing.  

“We already knew that sleep helps strengthens memories, but we now also know that it helps us select and retain those that have a rewarding value,” says Igloi.

“It makes adaptive sense that the consolidation of memory should work to prioritise information that is critical to our success and survival.”

Let us know in the comments below if you have used naps or sleep to help you remember something new.  

Sources– eLife. “A nap to recap: How reward, daytime sleep boost learning: Findings could benefit educators.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151016135315.htm>.

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Kirsten Campbell
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Kirsten Campbell

Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
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