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?