Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Reason To "Sleep On It": Study Shows Importance Of Sleep To Memory Consolidation And Task Performance

Date:
November 22, 2000
Source:
Harvard Medical School
Summary:
School kids may be cutting back on sleep to finish ever mounting piles of homework, but it could be a self-defeating strategy. Harvard Medical School researchers have found that people who stay up all night after learning and practicing a new task show little improvement in their performance. And the study suggests that no amount of sleep on the following two nights can make up for the toll taken by the initial all-nighter

Boston, MA (November 21, 2000) -- School kids may be cutting back on sleep to finish ever mounting piles of homework, but it could be a self-defeating strategy. Harvard Medical School researchers have found that people who stay up all night after learning and practicing a new task show little improvement in their performance. And the study suggests that no amount of sleep on the following two nights can make up for the toll taken by the initial all-nighter.

"Our research shows that you need sleep that first night if you want to improve on a task," says Robert Stickgold, Harvard Medical School assistant professor of psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.

The study, which appears in the December Nature Neuroscience, adds a critical piece to a growing body of work by Stickgold and others showing that sleep is necessary for learning (see http://www.med.harvard.edu/publications/Focus/Oct27_2000/index.html).

Previously, Stickgold and his colleagues found that people who learned a particular task did not improve their performance when tested later the same day but did improve after a night of sleep.

To see whether the night of sleep actually caused the improvement, Stickgold trained 24 subjects in the same visual discrimination task, which consisted of identifying the orientation of three diagonal bars flashed for a sixtieth of a second on the lower left quadrant of a computer screen full of horizontal stripes. Half of the subjects went to sleep that night while the other half were kept awake until the second night of the study. Both groups were allowed to sleep on the second and third nights. On the fourth day, both groups were tested on the visual discrimination task. Those who slept the first night identified the correct orientation of the diagonal bars much more rapidly than they had the first day. The other group showed no improvement, despite the two nights of catch-up sleep.

"We think that getting that first night's sleep starts the process of memory consolidation," says Stickgold. "It seems that memories normally wash out of the brain unless some process nails them down. My suspicion is that sleep is one of those things that does the nailing down."

Support for this research was provided by the National Institutes of Health and The Network on Mind-Body Interactions, a multidisciplinary research network sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Begun a decade ago, the Mind-Body Network (http://www.mindbody.org) has been committed to discovering the biological mechanisms by which the social world and mental processes affect physical health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard Medical School. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard Medical School. "New Reason To "Sleep On It": Study Shows Importance Of Sleep To Memory Consolidation And Task Performance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001122075125.htm>.
Harvard Medical School. (2000, November 22). New Reason To "Sleep On It": Study Shows Importance Of Sleep To Memory Consolidation And Task Performance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001122075125.htm
Harvard Medical School. "New Reason To "Sleep On It": Study Shows Importance Of Sleep To Memory Consolidation And Task Performance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001122075125.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins