Practice with sleep makes perfect: sleep-dependent motor skill learning

Neuron. 2002 Jul 3;35(1):205-11. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(02)00746-8.


Improvement in motor skill performance is known to continue for at least 24 hr following training, yet the relative contributions of time spent awake and asleep are unknown. Here we provide evidence that a night of sleep results in a 20% increase in motor speed without loss of accuracy, while an equivalent period of time during wake provides no significant benefit. Furthermore, a significant correlation exists between the improved performance overnight and the amount of stage 2 NREM sleep, particularly late in the night. This finding of sleep-dependent motor skill improvement may have important implications for the efficient learning of all skilled actions in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology