The sleep technique does not only aids faster leaning, but makes what learnt last longer – the sleeping pattern aids recall up to six months later.
Psychologists found 50% improvement in memory among those who sleep in between study sessions, a technique previous study say, encourages brain cells to make connections with each other (dendritic spines).
Our results suggest that interleaving sleep between practice sessions leads to a twofold advantage, reducing the time spent relearning and ensuring a much better long-term retention than practice alone, explains Dr Stephanie Mazza, the study’s first author.
Previous research suggested that sleeping after learning is definitely a good strategy, but now we show that sleeping between two learning sessions greatly improves such a strategy.”
The researchers gathered their findings from those learning new words in Swahili. One half of the groups had its two learning sessions, all in one day i.e. in the morning and evening. While participants in the second group had theirs in either side of the sleeping: evening and the next morning.
Findings show that sleeping in between learning sessions leads to faster learning with less effort. The effect on participants was still noticeable after six months.
Memories that were not explicitly accessible at the beginning of relearning appeared to have been transformed by sleep in some way.
Such transformation allowed subjects to re-encode information faster and to save time during the relearning session,” Dr Mazza added.
Reference: Stéphanie Mazza et al: Relearn Faster and Retain Longer. Along With Practice, Sleep Makes Perfect - published in the journal Psychological Science. Video: Secret Dual Lives of People Living with Mental Illness