A good night’s sleep may be key to improved memory

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A good night’s sleep could be the key to an improved memory and what’s more – it could help you imagine the future too.sleep

The REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage — where people”s dreams are most vivid – is also important for people’s memory systems, said University of California researcher Sara C. Mednick and her colleagues.

Study participants were shown multiple groups of three words (e.g., cookie, heart, sixteen) and asked to find another word that can be associated with all three words.

In this case, the answer would have been “sweet.”

Participants were tested once in the morning and again in the afternoon, either after a nap with REM sleep, one without REM sleep or a quiet rest period.

Results showed that the REM sleep group improved by almost 40 percent over their morning performances.

“REM sleep is important for pulling together all the information we process on a daily basis and turning it into memories we can use later,” said Mednick.

“This helps us to understand more about the benefits of sleep and to help people maximize their sleep schedules for optimal productivity and memory retrieval,” she added.

Brain imaging research suggests that the ability to remember past events may be crucially involved in people”s ability to imagine events that have not happened yet and even simulate these “future” occurrences, according to researcher Daniel L. Schacter from Harvard.

Tagged as: health, memory, rapid eye movement, REM, Sara C. Mednick, Sleep, University of California researcher, University of California researcher Sara C. Mednick

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