Could taking 40 winks in the classroom help boost your exam results
00:27 GMT, 27 March 2012
Snoozing towards the end of a lesson has not traditionally been viewed as a compliment to the teacher.
But falling asleep shortly after receiving new information makes us more likely to absorb it, researchers claim.
The findings could also mean that it is best to carry out final preparations for an exam or office presentation just before bedtime.
Falling asleep just after receiving new information makes us more likely to absorb it, researchers claim
A team from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana tested 208 students who regularly get around six hours’ sleep a night. They were shown a series of pairs of words – some related to each other and some completely random – and asked to try to remember as many as possible.
The findings suggest it is best to carry out final preparations for an exam or office presentation just before bed
They were then tested after breaks of various lengths, some of which included a night’s sleep, the U.S. researchers told the specialist journal PLOS One.
Although there was little difference when it came to recalling the related pairs, memory for the unrelated word pairs was significantly better after a 12-hour break including a night’s sleep.
The students were then given a break of 24 hours before being tested a second time.
On this occasion, those who had gone to sleep shortly after memorising the pairs did much better in both categories, suggesting a long-term benefit from sleeping after receiving new information.
Jessica Payne, a psychologist from the University of Notre Dame, said: ‘Our study confirms that sleeping directly after learning something new is beneficial for memory.’
She added: ‘Since sleeping soon after learning benefited memory, this means it would be a good thing to rehearse any information you need to remember just prior to going to bed.
‘In some sense, you may be “telling” the sleeping brain what to consolidate.’