3 Ways This Method of Sleeping Helps You Learn Faster
We largely associate students with learning. College or high school students, or someone pursuing an MBA or PhD.
But it’s not just students who need to learn. In fact, most of us are assimilating information in our personal and professional lives every single day.
We’re meeting new people and exploring new neighborhoods or cities. We’re learning new concepts and strategies in business or marketing. And many of us have to keep up on the latest technologies, trends, and research in our fields.
Students are used to cramming for hours, especially for a test or presentation. But for anyone who wants to learn faster, the topic of sleep usually doesn’t come up.
While it’s easily overlooked, sleep plays an important role in learning. And a new study reveals a slight twist in your sleep/learning cycle that can help you learn better and faster.
How Sleeping Helps You Learn
Neuroscience has shown us that sleep has an important role in memory formation. So it’s not too surprising that sleep also plays an important part in learning.
Also, prior studies have shown that repetition is one of the most effective study techniques to remembering information.
But the recent study published in Psychological Science reveals that sleeping combined with repetition can have better results than the two activities alone.
And the best way to combine the two? Timing your sleep between your study sessions.
Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s lead researcher Stephanie Mazza:
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.
The study showed that people who learned a series of Swahili words scored better on tests if they slept between two study periods that were spaced 12 hours apart.
Here’s a rundown of the three effects this sleeping method had on learning.
1. Better Retention
The sleeping group remembered more words from their previous study session than people who stayed awake.
2. Faster Relearning
The sleeping group relearned the words they had forgotten faster. Meaning they took less attempts to correctly translate Swahili words they had missed in their second session. This equates to faster, more efficient learning of information they had been previously exposed to.
3. Stronger Long Term Memory
The sleeping group also retained the information better over longer periods of time. When the two groups retested 1 week later, it was the group that slept that got higher scores. The researchers said this effect was still noticeable up to six months later.
Best When Combined
Other research has shown that sleep and learning go hand in hand. Even studying before or after a nap can also help you retain information you’ve learned. Even certain times of day may be best for learning.
But for the best effect, Stephanie says interleaving sleep may hold the best result:
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.
So whether you’re trying to acquire new skills, grasp a new concept, or just remember information for a test or presentation, don’t forget to schedule your hardcore cram sessions around some solid sleep.