Get some sleep instead of pulling an all-nighter to buy extra time to cram for a vocabulary exam. A new study found that sleeping after a study session dramatically helps with the recall of new words. This approach can help prospective students improve their performance on the make-or-break tests like the SAT, ACT or GRE.
Two groups of study participants learned a series of new words phonologically similar to familiar words. Both groups were tested after the initial study session. The session occurred in the evening for half of the subjects; the others studied in the morning.
Volunteers who studied in the evening slept before taking a follow-up test in the morning. The people who studied in the morning had to take the second test later in the evening, and were not permitted to sleep.
Results indicate the participants remembered more words when they slept before the follow-up exam. Brain activity data suggests sleep spindles during deep sleep helped the volunteers retain the new words.
In a statement to the media, one of the authors suggested sleep plays an important role in the reorganization of new memories.
Regular may notice studies these findings are in line with several recent studies involving sleep and memory. One noted study involved word association problems commonly found in the SAT. The research concluded that long naps with REM sleep led to higher test scores than short naps or waking rest periods.
Another article published in April reported that naps helped a group of study participants learn the correct path through a complex maze.
The message is clear: sleep on your academic success and shun the caffeine and cram sessions.