Are you having trouble remembering something? Take a break. Studies have shown that sleep helps retain information because during good night’s sleep, the brain consolidates recently formed memories into stable, long-term memories. However, a new study published in the journal Hippocampus, has shown that this consolidation process can also happen even while one is awake.
“A lot of people think the brain is a muscle that needs to be continually stimulated, but perhaps that’s not the best way,” said Michaela Dewar at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, in a statement at New Scientist. “To store them long-term, new memories must be consolidated, a process thought to happen while we sleep. But at least some consolidation may occur while we’re awake, all you need is time out.”
In her study, Dewar and her team asked 40 volunteers to explore a virtual reality environment. Later, they made the participants either to spend 10 minutes sitting quietly in a dimly lit room without distractions of any kinds, or to spend 10 minutes on an unrelated task. As the team found, those who sat quietly in a distraction free room were 10 percent more accurate at orientating themselves in relation to virtual landmarks, compared to those who did not. In short, they performed better in consolidating spatial memories.
For those suffering from insomnia, simply taking a break while awake can get a memory benefit of sleep. However, if not relaxing, there could be trouble during memory-consolidation processes. Sitting quietly has also shown benefit even for people with amnesia, researchers claimed.
Also, don’t forget to check out these 7 memory exercises to improve your brain power.
- Hat Tip: New Scientist, MentalFloss [Image: iStock via Mental Floss]
- Journal Reference: Wakeful Rest Promotes The Integration Of Spatial Memories Into Accurate Cognitive Maps