Splitting sleep between the night and a daytime nap reduces homeostatic sleep pressure and enhances long-term memory
SourceScientific Reports, 11, 1, (2021), article 5275
Article / Letter to editor
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PI Group Memory and Emotion
Subject130 000 Cognitive Neurology & Memory; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Daytime naps have been linked with enhanced memory encoding and consolidation. It remains unclear how a daily napping schedule impacts learning throughout the day, and whether these effects are the same for well-rested and sleep restricted individuals. We compared memory in 112 adolescents who underwent two simulated school weeks containing 8 or 6.5 h sleep opportunities each day. Sleep episodes were nocturnal or split between nocturnal sleep and a 90-min afternoon nap, creating four experimental groups: 8 h-continuous, 8 h-split, 6.5 h-continuous and 6.5 h-split. Declarative memory was assessed with picture encoding and an educationally realistic factual knowledge task. Splitting sleep significantly enhanced afternoon picture encoding and factual knowledge under both 6.5 h and 8 h durations. Splitting sleep also significantly reduced slow-wave energy during nocturnal sleep, suggesting lower homeostatic sleep pressure during the day. There was no negative impact of the split sleep schedule on morning performance, despite a reduction in nocturnal sleep. These findings suggest that naps could be incorporated into a daily sleep schedule that provides sufficient sleep and benefits learning.
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