A team of researchers from NYU School of Medicine and Peking (aka Beijing) University has released a study that highlights the importance of restful sleep for memory and learning. The scientists used advanced microscopy to witness how brain connections form during sleep.
Using mice as test subjects, they first trained the mice on a new skill. Then, using microscopes, they looked inside the living brains to see the differences between the animals that were sleeping and those that were sleep-deprived. They found that the rested mice had formed more brain connections than their exhausted counterparts: they were learning more. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that a particular type of rest-deep sleep-contributes to memory formation.
In fact, the sleeping brain is quite active during sleep. A study last year showed that sleep helped to release toxins from the brain. During sleep, the brain re-plays the day’s activities and helps to form more synapses (brain connections).
This study has clear implications for studying. The Center for Disease Control recommends that teens sleep for at least nine hours a night. thereStaying up all night to cram is ineffective. To experience learning, students should practice good study skills and time management techniques that allow them to engage in brain-enhancing deep sleep.