Ace Those Finals: Nap with Dreams

BOSTON, April 26 (UPI) — Plenty of naps — especially if they include dreams — may make studying more successful for final exams, a U.S. researcher says.

Robert Stickgold of the Harvard Medical School in Boston advises studying hard right before going to bed or taking a nap after intense afternoon study — but also taking note of habits or mental processes that lead to dreaming about what needs to be remembered.

Stickgold and colleagues had study participants learn the layout of a three-dimensional maze on a computer screen with the aim of finding a landmark. Five hours later they were placed at a random location within the virtual space. Those allowed to take a nap who reported dreaming found the landmark in less time than those who had not slept or who slept but did not report dreaming.

The study, published in Current Biology, suggests dreams may be a side-effect of memory processes — a sign the unconscious parts of the brain are hard at work.

“We think that the dreams are a marker that the brain is working on the same problem at many levels,” Stickgold says in a statement. “The dreams might reflect the brain’s attempt to find associations for the memories that could make them more useful in the future.”

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