We’ve reported on this in the past……however more information is available. According to a new study in the Feb. 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, during sleep the brain preferentially retains the memories that are most relevant. Researchers set up two experiments to test memory retrieval. In the first experiment, people were asked to learn 40 pairs of words and in the second, participants played a card game where they matched pictures of animals and objects. In both groups, half the volunteers were told that they would be tested in 10 hours. However, all participants were tested later on how well they recalled their tasks.
It turned out that the people who slept and knew a test was coming had substantially improved memory recall. Sleep was critical to memory enhancement. There was an increase in brain activity during deep or “slow wave” sleep in those volunteers knew they would be tested for memory recall.
This should interest managers caring that employees retain on the job and other training. Safety, human resource, and facility managers might consider fatigue management training to ensure employees are fully aware of the benefits of sleep for themselves and the workplace.
The researchers think that the brain’s prefrontal cortex focuses on memories viewed as relevant while awake and the hippocampus consolidates these memories during sleep.
This is another study that points to the importance sleep to memory retention – something shift workers and their managers should really care about.