Money Matters - Simplified

Afternoon nap boosts memory tenfold, only if person dreams

Researchers gave maze test to the participants after five hours and found that nappers did better than those participants who did not sleep at all.

According to a new study published in the journal 'Current Biology' on Thursday, afternoon nap can boost one’s memory tenfold but only if the person dreams while sleeping.

The lead author of the study, Robert Stickgold, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, explained, "When you dream, your brain is trying to look at connections that you might not think of or notice when [you're] awake. In the dream...the brain tries to figure out what's important and what it should keep or dump because it's of no value.”

The researchers of the study believe that they have found an important link on how sleep combined with dreams boosts memory and helps human brain in making better sense of the world around.

"Every day, we are gathering and encountering tremendous amounts of information and new experiences. It would seem that our dreams are asking the question, 'How do I use this information to inform my life?” said another researcher Erin Wamsley in the study.

Method used for the study
For studying the co-relation between sleep, dreams and memory boost, researchers trained 99 participants on a virtual 3-D version of a maze, where they tried to find their way out by solving series of puzzles as soon as possible.

After doing so for an hour, half the participants were told to take a nap for about 90-minutes. The other half were told to stay awake and spent their time watching videos or reading a book.

When you dream, your brain is trying to look at connections that you might not think of or notice when [you're] awake,” said lead author Robert Stickgold.

However, not every expert is ready to accept the new study that is relating sleep, dreams and memory boost. Some believe that the study has failed to provide any concrete evidence on the subject.

Researchers again gave maze test to the participants after five hours and found that nappers did better than those participants who did not sleep at all.

Interestingly, researchers found out that the nappers who reported that they have dreamt about the maze performed their test ten times better than other participant who slept but did not dream and non-nappers combined.

“It’s almost as if your brain is rummaging through everything that happened today and deciding that you’re not done with it. The things that really grip you, the ones you decide at an emotional level are really important; those are the ones you dream about. The things you’re obsessed with are the ones that your brain forces you to continue to process,” explained Stickgold.

New study not convincing enough?
However, not every expert is ready to accept the new study that is relating sleep, dreams and memory boost. Some believe that the study has failed to provide any concrete evidence on the subject.

According a resident professor, Irwin Feinberg, at the University of California at Davis, "There is no convincing evidence that sleep has any effects on consolidating memory."

Still there are some experts who are reviewing the study and believe that it can help in the further research over the subject.