Sleep tight – a spacing opportunity
Sleep tight – a spacing opportunity

Sleep tight – a spacing opportunity

Sleep interests me. From personal effectiveness (Marine time) and early morning risers routines to research into young people well-being.

We all know how vital sleep is. Now, I am interested in when to sleep when studying. While we can learn without sleeping between learning sessions, for long-term retention, sleep is unquestionably advantageous. Not only that, it requires no cost and no additional effort. 

Sleeping provides optimal conditions for processes that integrate newly encoded memories into long-term storage (sometimes referred to as consolidation), and sleep as also “enhances new learning,” (Diekelmann and Born, 2010). Memories are re-activated during sleep and where these new memories would be prone to decay, instead they are transformed into more stable memories that are preserved long-term (van Dongen et al, 2012). 

Sleep then not only helps to strengthen memories, but also helps us to actively forget irrelevant information, thus optimising memory for what is relevant. Such transformations allow learners to re-encode information faster and to save time during the relearning sessions. The practical consequence reported by Mazza et al (2016) was that sleep between learning sessions reduced the amount of practice needed to relearning 16 paired words by half and also ensured much better long-term retention. This could also partly explain why within lesson spacing is less effective than between lesson spacing. 

Mazza et al’s (2016) recommendation: “Sleeping after learning is definitely a good strategy, but sleeping between two learning sessions is a better strategy.”

Getting some sleep in between study sessions may make it easier to recall what you studied and relearn what you’ve forgotten, even 6 months later, according to new.

Sleeps leads to a twofold advantage. Such transformations allow learners to re-encode information faster and to save time during the relearning sessions. The practical consequence reported by Mazza et al, (2016) was that sleep between learning sessions reduced the amount of practice needed to relearning 16 paired words by half and also ensured much better long-term retention. (This could also partly explain why within lesson spacing is less effective than between lesson spacing.)

“Our results suggest that interleaving sleep between practice sessions leads to a twofold advantage, reducing the time spent relearning and ensuring a much better long-term retention than practice alone.”

Stephanie Mazza

Finally, Kroneisen & Kuepper-Tetzel (2020) added that if students study in the evening, they should test themselves immediately after learning. If students study during the day the practice test should be delayed in order to reinforce memory and reduce forgetting of the material.

Diekelmann, S., Born, J. The memory function of sleep. Nat Rev Neurosci 11, 114–126 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2762

Kroneisen, M., & Kuepper-Tetzel, C. E. (2021). Using Day and Night – Scheduling Retrieval Practice and Sleep. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 20(1), 40–57. https://doi.org/10.1177/1475725720965363

Mazza, S., Gerbier, E., Gustin, M.-P., Kasikci, Z., Koenig, O., Toppino, T. C., & Magnin, M. (2016). Relearn Faster and Retain Longer: Along With Practice, Sleep Makes Perfect. Science, Technology and Society, 27(10), 46–65.

van Dongen EV, Thielen JW, Takashima A, Barth M, Fernández G (2012) Sleep Supports Selective Retention of Associative Memories Based on Relevance for Future Utilization. PLOS ONE 7(8): e43426. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0043426

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