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Study Finds Taking A Nap Is As Effective As Receiving Rewards In Boosting Learning

Study Finds Taking A Nap Is As Effective As Receiving Rewards In Boosting Learning

A recent study suggests that everyone who is learning or training should be taking more naps.

The study from the University of Geneva, found that a nap is as good as gold when it comes to learning and retention. Learning is often boosted with rewards and incentives. But if the learner takes a nap after being bribed with a reward or learning a skill, the brain uses that time to turn it into a long-term memory.

Sleeping enough is essential to the learning progress

What is most important is the huge impact that sleep can have on a person’s achievement. Not getting enough sleep means that the brain does not have time to process, recharge and reset. This means that the learning process can become much more laborious than it needs to be.

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How the study worked

In the study, 31 volunteers were assigned to one of two groups. Some were assigned to a sleep group. Others were assigned to an ‘awake’ group. The researchers showed all of the participant’s eight pairs of pictures. Researchers told them that if the participants could remember at least four of the pairs, they would receive a reward. The researchers then scanned the brains of all the participants while they were looking at the pictures.

Afterwards, the participants were either allowed to rest or sleep, depending on the group they had been assigned. The break lasted for a full 90 minutes. When the break was over, the participants were then tested on how confident they were about remembering the pictures.

Three months later, the participants took part in a pop quiz featuring the same pictures. The results of the test were that both groups performed well over all. But the sleep group did significantly better than the group that just took a break. They were able to remember more pictures after three months than the other group did.

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The science behind it

Researchers say that this all has to do with the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that helps you form memories. Researchers already understood that sleep is integral for helping the hippocampus function properly. But what they didn’t know was that sleep could help the brain choose which information to remember when rewards were involved.

According to the researchers, it makes sense that the brain would prioritize some information over others.

This study was thought to provide some basis to the sleep-learning trend. There are groups of people who are purchasing sleep-learning playlists in attempts to learn foreign languages or other things in their sleep. The trend promises productivity in your sleep and was recently featured on GearHeads Magazine. But while some neurologists say that it is too good to be true, the University of Geneva is not the only study to examine the effects of sleep on learning.

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What did other studies say?

In another new study, produced by Brown University, two different groups of subjects were also shown images, this time with patterns of lines. One group was then sent away to take a nap. Another stayed awake. This study also found that those who went to sleep could remember patterns better.

Masako Tamaki, one of the Brown University researchers says this is because the brain does not just switch off when you go to sleep. It uses the time to reset.

Unfortunately for those attempting to learn German in their sleep, the brain needs peace to do its best work. This means that interrupting it with noise can damage your sleep cycle. Without this peace, you might wake up tired and not have learned anything.

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But one thing studies do show is that kindergarten teachers have got it just right. There is nothing in the world like nap time.

Featured photo credit: nito via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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