Sleep is not only crucial for improving physical performance (recovery and recuperation benefits), but also for skill learning (memory, creative problem solving).
Essentially, it gives your brain a chance to make sense of your waking events, and create new neural pathways which are responsible for changing the way we act and behave. Several recent studies strengthen the connection between sleep and learning… think of sleeping like saving your progress in a video game, or on an important document you’re working on. Don’t lose your hard work by neglecting sleep!
Reactivate and reorganize
A 2010 Harvard study (NCBI) 🗗 suggested that dreaming may reactivate and reorganize recently learned material, which would help improve memory and boost performance. In the study, volunteers learned to navigate a complex maze. During a break, some were allowed to nap for 90 minutes, others weren’t. When the volunteers tackled the maze again, only the few who dreamed about it during their naps did better.
Matthew WalkerScientist and Professor of Neuroscience
"Practice does not make perfect. Practice with a night of sleep makes perfect [...] you come back the next day and you're 20-30% better in terms of your skilled performance than where you were at the end of your practice session the day before."
Ever wondered why babies sleep so much? Maybe it's because they're constantly learning new things? Everything they do, they're learning for the first time. As we get older, we don't tend to push ourself to this extreme that a baby goes through. Just a thought...
For many people, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find 45 minutes to nap. In a German study, a six-minute snooze helped volunteers recall a list of 30 words they had memorized earlier.
In another Harvard study, college student volunteers memorized pairs of unrelated words, worked on a maze puzzle, and copied an intricate figure. All were tested on their work, and half were allowed to nap for 45 minutes. During a retest, napping boosted the performance of volunteers who initially did well on the test, but didn’t help those who scored poorly the first time around.