A recent article in National Geographic says that “If your brain is an email account, sleep is how you clear out your inbox.”
For years sleep studies have hinted that shut-eye improves our ability to store and consolidate memories, reinforcing the notion that a good night’s sleep is much more conducive to learning than an overnight cram session.
Now scientists may have figured out how, in part, this happens: During sleep, information locked in short-term storage migrates into the longer-term database of the cortex.
This action not only helps the brain process new information, it also clears out space for the brain to take in new experiences.
That means “it’s not just important to sleep after learning, it’s critical to sleep before learning,” study leader Matthew Walker, of the University of California, Berkeley said. ”Sleep prepares the brain like a dry sponge, ready to soak up new information.”