The benefits of sleep haven’t been given their due credit in the past. So, underlining the importance of sleep is a new study that has found that sleeping not only keeps memories intact, but it also makes them easier to be accessed. Findings of this study suggest that after sleeping, we are more likely to recall all the facts that we could not really remember well while we were awake.
In two different situations in which the subjects had forgotten information over 12 hours of wakefulness, a full night’s sleep was shown to have promoted access to memory traces that had first been too weak to be retrieved.
The research was done by scientists from the University of Exeter, UK, and the Basque Centre for Cognition, Brain and Language, Spain. It has been published in the journal Cortex.
Nicolas Dumay of the University of Exeter and BCBL said that sleep doubles one’s chances of remembering material that had previously been unrecalled. Post-sleep boost in one’s access to memory may be an indicator of memories being sharpened overnight. This supports the notion that when one is asleep, he/she actively rehearses information that had earlier been flagged as important.
The scientists got the participants to learn made-up words either before they went to sleep or an equivalent period of wakefulness. The subjects had been asked to recall their words soon after exposure and then again after they had slept or had been awake.
The key difference lay between the word memories that the participants were able to remember at both the immediate test as well as the 12-hour retest, and those that were not remembered at test, though were eventually remembered at retest.
The researchers were able to find that compared to daytime wakefulness, sleep helped in rescuing unrecalled memories more than it prevented memory loss.
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