Whether you’re studying for an important exam or learning a new language, there’s more proof that nonstop cramming sessions may not translate into the long-term memory retention you want.
Memory is a complex process that requires time for the brain to absorb new information. One needed step is called memory consolidation, when the newly created memory is set, so you can retrieve it later on.
Extensive research has shown that this consolidation takes place as you sleep, and explains why studying before bed may help you retain what you just read. While your body gets needed rest, your brain is busy working. During this active state, different parts of the brain communicate with each other.
Research done at Aachen University in Germany found that taking a 90-minute nap after learning can also boost recall for some people after motor-skill or language learning.
Want another approach?
A study done at New York University found that you can also “set” a new memory during waking hours by simply taking a break after a learning session, rather than immediately jumping onto another task or onto one of your high-tech gadgets.
Enjoy a short walk or grab a snack and let your conscious mind wander so your brain can get to work on what you just learned and not be distracted by a new challenge.
Read the entire Aachen University study on napping for learning retention in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.