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Learn, Nap, Repeat: How Sleep Consolidates Learning

Learn, Nap, Repeat: How Sleep Consolidates Learning

At the 2015 World Yo-Yo Contest in Tokyo, Yang Yuan-Ching from Taiwan won the “Long Sleeper” contest with a time of 29 minutes and 45 seconds; that’s how long the yo-yo napped at the end of its fully extended string before being reawakened and rewound without trouble. And that’s just about the perfect naptime for people, too!

Napping is a winning strategy, and that’s been confirmed in a study of almost 3,000 folks 65 and older who volunteered to learn, nap and recall. Researchers, writing in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, asked the volunteers to try to memorize a list of words and then hit the hay for less than 30, 30 to 90 or more than 90 minutes after lunch; and one group got no nap at all. Turns out that the moderate (30 to 90 minute) nappers were able to remember the most, correctly recalling 10 to 16 words. That was significantly more than the other nappers. The non-nappers could only come up with around seven or eight words

Our recommendation: Siestas for everyone! They’re not just pleasant, they’re a brainy idea. But if you’ve got no time for a nap, a study in Psychophysiology found you have a better shot at retention of info if you learn it right before bedtime and then sleep on it rather than learning it earlier in the day. So, before you make big decisions or need to trot out your expertise, be smart, stretch out and nap on it!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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