benefits of sleep

Catnaps, Dreams Can Accelerate Learning

It's no pipe dream: Getting more sleep and having more dreams could actually make you smarter.

Catnaps, Dreams Can Accelerate Learning

Sweet dreams: Doing something in your dreams may help you do it in the real world.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Sleep during class and you'll wake up confused. But take a catnap afterward and you may just wake up smarter, suggests a new study published in the journal Current Biology. And if you dream about what you learned, all the better. "This study, in combination with others, shows pretty clearly that when you sleep after learning, you remember it better later on," explains lead study author Erin Wamsley, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "But also, it's not just sleep that's beneficial; possibly, dreaming is also associated with improved performance."

THE DETAILS: In the small study, researchers asked 99 participants to navigate a virtual maze on a computer screen. Half were then allowed to lie down and given a 90-minute opportunity to nap. The rest were asked to stay awake and continue to think about the maze. Those in the sleeping group, on average, slept for 45 minutes and performed better than the group that stayed awake when they were retested several hours later. However, the people who reported dreaming about the task while napping were six times more likely to outperform all others during the retesting. "When you sleep, processes happen in the brain that help memory, and that memory processing in the sleeping brain can be seen in the dream reports," says Wamsley.

This is one of the first studies looking at sleep, dreams, and spatial navigation performance in humans. This could come in handy when you are driving in a relatively new place and relying on landmarks and your sense of direction to find your way, Wamsley says.

Filed Under: SLEEP

Published on: April 28, 2010

More from our Authors

This breakthrough information links the little-known connection between diabetes, fatigue, heart disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, and more! Click here to learn more.
Start Your Wellness Journey!
Sign up for updates on Rodale Wellness and get your FREE wellness journal to help you find your path to vibrant health. Click here to start your unique journey!

Free Newsletter
Sign up for our FREE newsletters to stay up to date on all of our wellness news.

  The Daily Fix
Useful news and practical tips to help you live a healthy life on a healthier planet.

  Wellness in Action
Find your path to vibrant health, and get your free wellness journal as our thanks!

You may unsubscribe at any time.

Your Privacy Rights. About Us.