Are you having a hard time mastering a pattern? Try sleeping on it and give it another try in the morning. A new study shows sleep helps us learn complex physical tasks.
Researchers found people who learned a motor skill task in the evening, and were tested 12 hours later after a night of sleep, performed 20% better than those who learned the same task in the morning, and were tested 12 hours later, without sleeping in between sessions.
"All such learning of new actions may require sleep before the maximum benefit of practice is expressed," writes Mathew P. Walker and colleagues at the laboratory of neurophysiology at Harvard Medical School. They say this may especially be important in early childhood development, when humans sleep most, and when recovering from injuries.
Their findings appear in the July 3, 2002 issue of the journal Neuron.
For the study, researchers trained different groups of people to perform a finger-tapping task where they had to repeat the same five-part sequence as quickly and as rapidly as possible for 30 seconds.
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