A new study is shedding light on one of sleeps biggest mysteries: why we dream. While it’s been known for some time that dreaming helps memory function, findings published Thursday in Current Biology indicate we continue to learn as we dream.
Subjects in the study spent an hour navigating navigated a complex 3D maze and then took a 90 minute break.
Half the volunteers napped during that period, while the others stayed awake.
When the break ended participants were asked to solve the same maze as quickly as possible.
Those who stayed awake the entire time had a drop in performance compared to previously. The nappers who did not dream only modestly improved.
The four people who reported dreaming about the maze turned in an impressive performance, completing it in half their previous time. Matched up against the group that didn’t nap, the dreamers’ scores were 10 times better.
Find out the details of their dream in this New York Times article.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains the physiological processes of learning while dreaming in the video below.