Study Says You Can Learn While You Nap! – by Dr. Sara Sawtelle

In the April 22, 2010 edition of Current Biology, researchers offer evidence that successful study habits should include plenty of napping.  The study concluded that people who take a nap AND dream about a task they just learned perform the task better than those who do not sleep.  They also perform better than those who sleep but do not dream about the task.  I always knew dreaming was important to long-term memory, but this is the first time I’ve read about intentional dreaming. 

The findings do raise some questions, though.  How do you make yourself dream about a specific task and remember that dream?  I usually only remember dreams that I cannot seem to “shake” or that I have repeatedly.  Often I can only remember the feeling or emotion of a dream.  I don’t really know how to direct myself to have a dream.  

Can you hear a Physics teacher saying “Now that we have worked on Newton’s Law s and finished the experiments, but before you begin your report, I want to you take a 30-minute nap and dream about it.  We want to make sure you really learn this!”

I am not sure this scientific result is useful in everyday life.  But the science of learning continues to evolve so a way to make this practical may just be a few studies away.  And while I wait for the data to come to light … I think I’ll go take a nap!

What about you … do you nap and learn?


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