Dream on… and Learn Better

While You Sleep, Your Brain is Hard at Work




Modern science has established that sleep can be an important tool for enhancing memory and learning skills. A new study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sheds light on the role that dreams play in this process. “After nearly 100 years of debate about the function of dreams, this study tells us that dreams are the brain’s way of processing, integrating and really understanding new information,” says senior author Robert Stickgold, Ph.D. “Dreams are a clear indication that the sleeping brain is working on memories at multiple levels, including ways that will directly improve performance.”

Indeed, according to the researchers, these new findings suggest that dreams may be the sleeping brain’s way of telling us that it is hard at work on the process of memory consolidation— integrating our recent experiences to help us with performance-related tasks in the short run, as well as over the long term. In other words, dreams help us translate this material into information that has broad application in our lives.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Pink Noise While Asleep Helps Memory

Random sound with more bass than white noise—known as pink noise—improved sleep brainwave patterns linked to memory retention in older adults.

Walking Reduces Symptoms of Dementia

After six months of hour-long walks three times a week, patients with early symptoms of dementia found it easier to focus and make decisions.

DHA Boosts Elder Brain Function

Researchers have discovered that regularly taking DHA improves brain function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Silence De-Stresses the Brain

Studies increasingly link noisy surroundings to stress hormones and cognitive difficulties in children.

Nature’s Colors Aid Focus and Accuracy

Taking 30-second computer breaks to view a photo of a flowering meadow on a rooftop helped college students focus longer and make fewer errors.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags