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. 2016 Oct;27(10):1321-1330.
doi: 10.1177/0956797616659930. Epub 2016 Aug 20.

Relearn Faster and Retain Longer


Relearn Faster and Retain Longer

Stéphanie Mazza et al. Psychol Sci. .


Both repeated practice and sleep improve long-term retention of information. The assumed common mechanism underlying these effects is memory reactivation, either on-line and effortful or off-line and effortless. In the study reported here, we investigated whether sleep-dependent memory consolidation could help to save practice time during relearning. During two sessions occurring 12 hr apart, 40 participants practiced foreign vocabulary until they reached a perfect level of performance. Half of them learned in the morning and relearned in the evening of a single day. The other half learned in the evening of one day, slept, and then relearned in the morning of the next day. Their retention was assessed 1 week later and 6 months later. We found that interleaving sleep between learning sessions not only reduced the amount of practice needed by half but also ensured much better long-term retention. Sleeping after learning is definitely a good strategy, but sleeping between two learning sessions is a better strategy.

Keywords: learning; relearning; repeated practice; sleep-dependent memory consolidation; sleep-wake cycle.

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