By: Vivek Krishnam
A study done at the University of Bristol suggests that a short period of sleep, or a nap, helps one gain insight into a challenging decision or helps one to consider pros or cons. It is known that sleep in general enhances one’s cognition. However, it was not clear if information attained when one is awake is processed at a deeper level during sleep.
The study was conducted with individuals who varied in ages that carried out two tasks. One was a simple task while another was “masked.” The researchers disguised information in this “masked” task so that it was not consciously perceived, as opposed to the information in the simple task. The hidden information was processed at a subliminal level which allowed the researchers to test sleep’s affect on deep reasoning. This is in contrast to other relatively superficial mental tasks, such as information recall, which research has already been collected. After the individuals participated in the two tasks, they either stayed awake or took a ninety-minute nap. Then, they performed the tasks again while an EEG measured the electrical activity in their brains.
The researchers found that the individuals who took the nap experienced improved processing speed of the “masked” task while those who stayed awake did not experience any improvement. For both sets of individuals, no improvement was seen in the simple or control task. Although the neural mechanisms of this phenomenon are not known, the results demonstrate that there is an enhancement of brain processing for specific, subconscious tasks.
University of Bristol. (2018, October 4). Day-time naps help us acquire information not consciously perceived, study finds: 'I'll sleep on it' proves scientifically sound advice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181004095929.htm