If you want learners to remember more, you might want to give them a chance to sleep on what you’ve told them.

According to a recent study, post-learning sleep has a powerful effect on retention.

Researchers conducted an early-morning study during which subjects memorized a series of word pairs.

One group reported back later that same evening for a memory test. The other group returned the following morning.

The subjects who slept after the learning event scored more than 12% higher on the assessment.

Numerous studies have demonstrated sleep’s role in encoding information into long-term memory. This study went further: Researchers found that the brain actively prioritizes information during sleep, deciding what’s worth remembering and what can be safely forgotten.

Takeaway: Schedule training in ways that give learners a chance to sleep on what they’ve learned. For example, instead of one all-day session, consider scheduling an afternoon session followed by another one the next morning.

Source: Wilhelm, I., et al. (2011). Sleep selectively enhances memory expected to be of future relevance. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(5), 156.

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