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A Short Nap May Help You Retain Newly Learned Information

The best way to avoid forgetting something you just learned is by taking a quick nap, according to researchers at the University of Lubeck in Germany.

The findings, which surprised the researchers, were published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Cognitive NeuroScience.

The researchers conducted a study in which twenty-four participants memorized 15 pairs of cards showing pictures of animals and everyday objects. While performing the exercise, they were exposed to a slightly unpleasant odor.

40 minutes later, half of the subjects were asked to learn a second, slightly different pattern of cards and just before starting they were exposed to the same odor from before in order to trigger their memory.

The remaining participants went through the same exercise but they took a brief nap in between the two exercises. They were exposed to the odor while in slow-wave sleep.

The researchers were surprised to find that the participants in the “Nap” group performed significantly better, retaining on average 85% of the patterns, compared to 60% for those who had remained awake.

Although further studies are necessary to delve deeper into these findings, it appears that taking a short nap may do more than just rejuvenate, it may also cement newly learned information.

Many people avoid taking naps because they worry it may affect their sleep at night. However, research has shown that taking a nap for under 1 hour often provides benefits without negatively affecting nighttime sleep.

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