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Dreaming Can Improve Memory

A recent study highlights the mental benefits of dreaming.

Naresh Kumar
Naresh Kumar on April 26, 2010.

While it is believed that sleep is among the best aides for a good memory, new research conducted by Erin Wamsley of Harvard Medical School shows that dreaming while sleeping can improve our memories even further.

Discover Magazine has more details on the findings of her experiment:

She asked 99 volunteers to learn the layout of a complex virtual maze so that they could reach a specific landmark after being dropped at a random starting point. Five hours later, they were tested again. Those who had stayed awake in the intervening time beat their previous times by 26 seconds, but those who had had a 90-minute nap improved by a whopping 188 seconds.

But those who dreamt about the task fared even better. Wamsley either asked her recruits directly about whether they dreamt about the labyrinth, or asked them to give an open-ended report of everything that was going through their mind while they were asleep. Either way, those who had thought about the maze during their short nap improved far more than those who didn’t. They also beat those who mentally replayed their training again while awake. These striking results suggest that there’s something special about the mental rehearsals that happen during dreaming sleep.

Getting a good night’s sleep before the exam day is perhaps not a bad idea after all.

Discover: “To sleep, perchance to dream, perchance to remember”

Image courtesy TheAlieness GiselaGiardino

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