Sleep Might Help You Solve Problems Better
|Author: Shelly Nolloth|
Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
|Return to Archive|
Got a big decision to make and thinking about sleeping on it?
A new study suggests that might be a good idea; it found that people did a better job of learning a game when they got some shut-eye afterward.
The research doesn't prove that sleep will help you learn more effectively. But it does provide more evidence that your brain doesn't just rest and dream when you're asleep, said study co-author Rebecca Spencer, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The brain appears to also be reviewing the day's events and processing them, she said. "You put the movie in and you replay it. This says sleep is really adding something, that we shouldn't go with our gut instinct. We should sleep on it," she said.
It may seem obvious that people would perform a task better after getting some sleep. But Spencer said the new study is unique because it looks at people who had a brief chance to learn something and then either slept or stayed awake.
Other sleep research has focused on memory and on what happens when people don't get enough sleep. "Everything falls to pieces when you've been sleep-deprived," she said.
In the study, researchers assigned 54 college students (aged 18-23) to one of two groups. One learned a gambling game in the morning, while the other learned it in the evening, although no one was allowed to learn the trick to beating the game. Then they came back 12 hours later to play the game.
Those who had a chance to get a full night's sleep after learning the game did a better job of figuring out the trick to it. Eighty percent of those who slept figured out the trick to the game, while 40 percent of those who stayed awake did, Spencer said.
The researchers assigned the game to other groups of students and found that the time of day when they played it didn't affect their performance, boosting the case that sleep was a crucial factor for the first two groups.
What's going on? The brain appears to process what it's learned during sleep, Spencer said. "It's filing it away. And when you file things, you're not just putting them in the file drawer. You're putting them in a real organized fashion, you're filing it next to things."
Sleep researcher Michael P. Stryker, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco, said the study does have an important limitation: "Is the difference really a gain in performance after sleep because of some kind of 'insight' or 'problem-solving' that happens during sleep, or is it that being awake for 12 hours makes you less able to perform the task?"
Sleep researcher Michael Anch, an associate professor at Saint Louis University, said the study "emphasizes the growing awareness of the importance of sleep for optimal cognitive functioning."
"This study is consistent with other studies suggesting that sleep allows you to integrate learned information from various brain regions, which is not allowable by instant decisions," Anch said. "This gives credence to the notion that if you have a decision to make, sleep on it!"
The study appears in the current online issue of the Journal of Sleep Research.
- All Categories
- Academic Outreach
- Continuing & Professional Development
- Distance Learning
- Summer Sessions
- Winter Term
- Career & Workforce Development
- Lifelong Learning
- Society for Lifelong Learning
- WKU On Demand
- Study Away
- Faculty-Led Study Abroad
- Center for Faculty Development
- Cohort Programs
- Dual Credit
- Event & Training Services
- All Categories
- March 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS October 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2012 E-Newsletter
- April 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS November 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2013 E-Newsletter
- JUNE 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS May/June 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2013 E-Newsletter
- Archived CHHS News
- CHHS October 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2015 E-Newsletter
- December 2015 ICYMI
- January 2016 ICYMI
- MAY 2016 ICYMI
- February 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS July 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2011 E-Newsletter
The WKU Board of Regents will meet April 28.
The Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex announced the Next Generation Initiative during a celebration of Autism After 21 Day on April 21.
WKU civil engineering students competed in the Ohio Valley Student Conference April 5-9 at The Ohio State University.
The WKU Forensics Team won both the National Forensic Association National Tournament championship and the National Forensic Association Lincoln-Douglas Debate Team Sweepstakes national championship.
Shelby Bowden, a WKU Geoscience graduate student from Greenville, South Carolina, has been awarded the prestigious 2017 Graduate Student Research Grant from the Geological Society of America for his master’s thesis project in Ethiopia.
April 21-23 weekend events include SOKY Bookfest, quilt registry, Run for Autism, Science Olympiad, WKU spring football, Cultural Enhancement Series, WKU baseball and softball games, WKU band and choral concerts, and more.
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,