Sleep, even naps, can improve memory

(NewsNation Now) — Every time you turn on your TV or open a website, you’re bombarded by ads for things that purport to improve your memory. It turns out that one of the best ways to pull that off might be to sleep on it.

Northwestern University professor Ken Paller joined “Morning in America” to talk about how to get good sleep and what it can do for you.

The most elemental part of good sleep is to set up a routine. Go to sleep and get up at roughly the same time every day. Also, watch out for caffeine within a few hours of bedtime, and don’t eat a heavy meal right before sleeping. Make sure your sleeping room is dark and cool, and avoid doing things like leaving the TV on while you sleep.

What it boils down to is valuing your sleep. You value yourself, and sleep is a critical part of keeping yourself healthy, so spend some time and money making sure you have a good sleep environment. (Note: This might involve tossing that 10-year-old pillow and getting something that actually supports your head.)

In an experiment, participants were given the names and faces of 80 people and told to remember them. Many of the participants were students, meaning they were habitually sleep-deprived. The participants were then told to take a nap, and while they slept a subset of the names were whispered to them repeatedly. At the end of the experiment, the well-rested participants remembered all the names and faces better, especially the ones they’d been reminded of while sleeping.

The upshot of the research is that sleep improves memory, with or without reminders being whispered to you by a research professor. While 8 hours of sleep at night is best, a half-hour or 45 minutes of napping will give your brain a boost midday. So before your big meeting, tell the boss you need to snooze for a bit so you can keep your facts straight.


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