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: 3.15). 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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    • "However, we feel that the impact of these factors on the results are limited and are not driving the results of this study because there was no difference between the sleep and no-sleep groups on the Stanford Sleepiness Scale at either the practice session or retention session, regardless of the time of day when the session occurred. Other studies have attempted to control for these factors by including a nap to determine the contribution of sleep to off-line learning (so the practice session and retention session occur at the same time of day regardless of whether participants are in the sleep condition or no-sleep condition), and found that a daytime nap enhances learning of a mirror-tracing task52 and a finger-tapping task.49,53 Cohen et al1 used two diurnal control groups, so that practice and retention testing took place at the same time of day (both at 8 am or both at 8 pm) and found that improvements in their task outcome measures were not associated with the time of day of testing. "
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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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