Naps Clear Brain’s Inbox, Improve Learning

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If your brain is an email account, sleep—and more specifically, naps—is how you clear out your inbox.

That’s the conclusion of a new study that may explain why people spend so many of their sleeping hours in a pre-dreaming state known as stage 2 non-rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep.

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—and power naps—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 the short-term storage of the hippocampus—the part of the brain responsible for memories—migrates into the longer-term database of the cortex.

Full story: Naps Clear Brain’s Inbox, Improve Learning