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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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