Losing Sleep Slows Down Learning

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Important news for college students and quiz show contestants: All-nighters mess up your memory.

Research presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference shows sleep is important to memory and learning…

One team of researchers from Pennsylvania, for example, studied the effects of a single night of lost sleep on 22 healthy adults who agreed to stay in the lab for 5 days and undergo brain imaging and memory testing.

The participants were first tested after a normal night of sleep, then after a night of sleep deprivation, and once again after 2 nights of recovery sleep. They found that participants performed more poorly on memory tasks after a lost night of sleep and that connectivity was perturbed between the brain’s hippocampus (which plays a role in memory and other functions) and default mode network (a network of brain areas thought to play a role in self-perception and day dreaming).

The good news, however, was that these brain connections and the participants’ performance on memory tasks were back to normal after a couple nights of recovery sleep, according to Hengyi Rao, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, who discussed the findings during a press briefing Tuesday.

So, college students, the lesson is that instead of procrastinating until the night before, procrastinate until the day before – then cram, crash, and pass.

Stacy Johnson

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