It's practice, with sleep, that makes perfect: implications of sleep-dependent learning and plasticity for skill performance

Clin Sports Med. 2005 Apr;24(2):301-17, ix. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2004.11.002.


Although there is no consensus regarding the functions of sleep, one exciting hypothesis is that sleep contributes importantly to learning and memory. Over the last decade, several studies have provided substantive evidence supporting the role of sleep in memory processing. This article focuses on sleep-dependent learning and brain plasticity in humans, specifically in the development of skill performance that is the foundation of many sports actions. The different forms and stages of human memory are discussed, then evidence of sleep-dependent skill learning and associated sleep-dependent brain plasticity is described. In conclusion, a consideration of the fundamental importance of sleep in real-life skill learning is provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*