Sleep, a period of rest common to all living beings, protects memories, says a study that provides important insights into how slumber influences memories.
Researchers studied 48 healthy adults aged 18-30, dividing them into four groups. All of them were told to remember certain words. The students who slept at home before the tests performed best, correctly identifying three-quarters of the word pairs.
The students who took the test before going home for the evening correctly identified one-third of the word pairs, the online edition of health magazine WebMD reported.
"This is the first study to show that sleep protects memories from interference," said researcher Jeffrey Ellenbogen, a neurologist and fellow in sleep research at Harvard Medical School.
"These results provide important insights into how the sleeping brain interacts with memories. It appears to strengthen them," he said. "Perhaps, then, sleep disorders might worsen memory problems seen in dementia."
The study will be presented May 2 in Boston at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th annual meeting.