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.

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