As a student I recall reading and being told that a good way to remember information was to read it just before you went to sleep. Your brain could then work on it while you slept, absorbing the new information. I had forgotten about this memory technique, even though I do remember it working for me.
A new study is suggesting that not only does sleep help us learn new information, but that dreams might also improve our memory. Neuroscientists Dr Robert Stickgold and Dr Erin Wamsley of Harvard Medical School found that volunteers who dreamed about a new task performed the task better after waking up than those who didn’t sleep or who didn’t dream.
The task was to learn the layout of a 3D virtual maze in order to find their way through it later. Those volunteers who were able to take a nap and who remember dreaming about the maze, found it much easier to navigate through the maze when they woke up.
Based on their findings, the researchers suggest students could take a nap after a study session or study just before going to bed to improve their learning.
So if you’re ever caught napping in a class, you can always tell the teacher you were trying out a new memory technique.