Training Tip: Sleep After You Train

Brain Fitness Pro uses the working-memory training technique designed by Jaeggi and Buschkuehl for their remarkable study. A follow-up study by Kenichi Kuriyama et al (Kazuo Mishima, Hiroyuki Suzuki, Sayaka Aritake, and Makoto Uchiyama) Japanese researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, and the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Nihon University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan, now shows that post-training sleep enhances the effect of working-memory training, accelerating the improvement in working-memory.

The researchers studied training and sleep effects for a group of subjects and a control group. The diagram shows how the team organized the sleep and training cycles.

Sleep Cycles for The Three Participant Groups

Sleep Cycles for The Three Participant Groups

Here’s the key finding:

“Although the [working-memory scores] at the initial training session were comparable among all experimental groups … subjects demonstrated remarkably different time courses of subsequent [working-memory score] improvements that were specifically dependent on the timing of posttraining sleep.” (Emphasis mine.)

Succinctly put, the accuracy of the subjects’ working-memory scores improved more quickly if they slept soon after training. Scores improved whether the sleep was night-time sleep or a nap. And the increases were substantial (between 1.5 and 2 points more than the non-sleepers).

New research shows that the mechanisms involved in plastic change in the brain do not get engaged without sleep!