The Best Time to Learn Something New
We need information to learn, understand, and make better decisions.
We acquire knowledge to make our lives better. To help us to create and discover. To connect with others.
One of the biggest keys to learning is our memory. It has a direct impact on how we learn new information.
So wouldn’t you want to know how to create stronger, more accessible memories?
You bet. And recent studies have uncovered that you can dramatically enhance learning if you do something this right after you learn.
What is it?
Getting Some Shut-Eye
A study from the University of Notre Dame finds that if you want to be able to remember material later, it’s best to sleep on it.
Psychologist Jessica Payne and her colleagues found out how stellar the results of sleep can be on learning. Here’s Jessica:
“Our study confirms that sleeping directly after learning something new is beneficial for memory.”
But there was a twist with their study. Jessica goes on:
“What’s novel about this study is that we tried to shine light on sleep’s influence on both types of declarative memory by studying semantically unrelated and related word pairs.”
Okay, so Jessica get a little technical here. Not all memory is exactly the same. Here’s what she means by declarative memory.
Declarative memory is the fancy term for memory about facts and events. Factual memories are called semantic memories, and memory about events are episodic memory.
For the study, students learned pairs of words. Some stayed awake during the day, while others slept immediately following studying the word pairs. When they were retested 24 hours later, the students who slept after learning had superior performance.
Here’s what Jessica recommends based on the results:
“Since we found that sleeping soon after learning benefited both types of memory, this means that it would be a good thing to rehearse any information you need to remember just prior to going to bed.”
Okay, so sleep helps learning. You can recall different types of memory better.
What about the other type of sleep. What I mean is, does taking a nap have the same effect?
Researchers have found that yes it does. Napping also can enhance your learning.
That research team performed a similar study in which students also learned word pairs. After a brief study period, some student were required to watch a DVD, while others took a 45 minute nap.
When retested, the group that napped had surprisingly forgotten very little.
Before Hitting the Sack
If you want to supercharge your learning, you should know that certain types of studying are better than others.
Forget about re-reading material or looking over notes. These are some of the most ineffective types of learning.
Here’s one of the best types.
Psychologists call it rehearsal. This is a type of memory recall where you force yourself to remember the information without help. Doing this before sleep, should give you an added boost for effective learning.
So if you’re a student, this should make you rethink the whole concept of an all night cram session.
Getting sleep before the test can help you out more than staying up all night and cram try to cram information into your brain.
And this isn’t just for students. It’s for anyone trying to learn anything new.
The best time to learn something new, is right before you get some shut eye and a decent night’s rest.