A US study has found that a good night’s sleep can improve the likelihood that a person will remember to do a list of tasks for the day ahead. The prospective memory, remembering ahead rather than the retrospective memory, remembering the past was shown to benefit from a night of refreshed sleep.
Scientists working at Washington University in St. Louis found that remembering to post a letter or make a call the next day was due to recognising and responding to a trigger. Because a good night’s sleep enhances alertness, the ability to pick up on triggers is increased, meaning that more gets done, quicker. However, triggers only work in context, which sleep cements. The study gave the example; "Before sleeping, you remembered you had a message to deliver to your colleague and you would see him in the conference room tomorrow. Sleep enhances the likelihood that you will tell him in the conference room, but not in some other context."
The study reveals how sleep can aid productivity, as it is believed that recently learned memories are placed in the separate, long-term storage regions of the brain, so that tasks are not lost in a sea of past memories.
The results of the research were published in the journal; Psychological Science.
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