Daytime naps improve procedural motor memory

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Luebeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D-23538 Lübeck, Germany.
Sleep Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.1). 10/2006; 7(6):508-12. DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2006.04.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To investigate the impact of a short daytime nap on procedural and declarative memory consolidation.
Following a normal night's sleep, 34 young healthy subjects were randomly assigned to a nap or wake condition of about 45min in the early afternoon after learning procedural and declarative memory tasks. Subjects were controlled for alertness and cortisol secretion.
The afternoon naps were dominated by sleep stage 2 but contained some slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep as well. Naps significantly improved procedural, but not declarative, memory. Females showed more improvement than males in the declarative memory tasks irrespective of nap or wake. There was no difference between groups with respect to cortisol secretion or alertness.
A short nap is favorable for consolidation of procedural memory. The possibly confounding effect of gender should always be considered in research on sleep and memory.

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    • "In adolescence especially, midday napping is helpful in reinforcing declarative memory (Tucker et al. 2006). However, the study by Backhaus and Junghanns (2006) found that procedural memory, but not declarative memory, of 34 young healthy subjects aged 18-25 years old can be reinforced significantly through napping (Backhaus and Junghanns 2006). Napping also seemed to be more beneficial throughout early life in consolidating procedural memory (Schabus et al. 2004; Rasch et al. 2007; Wilhelm et al. 2008; Backhaus et al. 2008; Prehn-Kristensen et al. 2009). "
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    • "In line with this reasoning, other procedural tasks previously studied in children and having found time-more than sleep-dependent effects actually mostly benefit from REM and/or light non-REM (stage 2) sleep in adults. For instance, post-training sleep spindle density was associated with the consolidation of motor and visuomotor learning (Fogel et al., 2007; Peters et al., 2008; Smith and MacNeill, 1994) whereas REM nocturnal sleep (Fogel et al., 2007) and diurnal stage 2 sleep were related to the development of mirror tracing abilities (Backhaus and Junghanns, 2006). Also, it should be considered that adaptive visuo-motor consolidation processes might be qualitatively different between children and adults. "
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    • "Some studies suggest that spindles (Gais, Mölle, Helms, & Born, 2002; Genzel, Dresler, Wehrle, Grözinger , & Steiger, 2009; Meier-Koll, Bussmann, Schmidt, & Neuschwander, 1999; Schabus et al., 2004; van der Helm, Gujar, Nishida, & Walker, 2011) and delta waves (Wamsley, Tucker, Payne, & Stickgold, 2010) during S2 might be relevant to the consolidation of declarative memories. However, most investigations on the memory functions of S2 point to a role of S2 in the consolidation of procedural motor memories – i.e., nondeclarative memories (Backhaus & Junghanns, 2006; Genzel et al., 2009; Smith & Macneill, 1994). Performing new procedural motor tasks before going to sleep increases not only the amount of time spent in S2 (Fogel & Smith, 2006; Fogel, Smith, & Cote, 2007) but also the spindle density in S2 (Fogel & Smith, 2006; Fogel et al., 2007; Peters, Ray, Smith, & Smith, 2008). "
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