According to this podcast by Christie Nicholson on Scientific American, researchers have discovered that how soon we sleep after we acquire new information may affect our retention of that info.
Scientists had more than 200 subjects memorize related words like "fire and smoke," or unrelated word pairs like "insect and truth." Some studied the words at 9 am, others at 9pm.
The researchers tested the subjects' ability to remember the pairs after 30 minutes, 12 hours or 24 hours.
Sleep had little effect on the ability to recall related words. But subjects who slept between tests were significantly better at remembering the unrelated words than those who got no shuteye.
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