163 | A short nap enhances memory acquisition in a high school setting

Cognition, Behavior, and Memory

Author: Vanessa Vidal | Email: vvidal@itba.edu.ar

Vanessa Vidal , Matias Pretel , Lucila Capurro , Leonela Tassone , Malen Moyano , Romina Malacari , Luis Brusco , Fabricio Ballarini , Cecilia Forcato

1° Laboratorio de Sueño y Memoria, Departamento de Ciencias de la Vida, Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA).
2° Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET).
3° Quilmes High School (QHS).
4° Centro de Neuropsiquiatría y Neurología de la Conducta – CENECON, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA).

Sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality are prevalent among high school students, negatively impacting academic performance. Both factors hinder various memory processes, primarily their acquisition. This could be related to a decrease in synaptic downscaling, a process that occurs during slow-wave sleep and allows the encoding of new information upon waking. Here, we assessed if sleeping a short nap in the classroom could enhance acquisition of a Biology lesson.
We conducted a 1-day experiment with 78 students aged 15-17 years. The Nap group slept for 20 min in the library while their brain electrical activity was recorded. Meanwhile, the Control group remained in the classroom engaging in quiet activities. Subsequently, both groups received a Biology lesson from their teacher and took a multiple-choice exam.
The Nap group showed significantly better performance in the exam compared to the Control group, suggesting that a short nap can enhance subsequent learning. Contrary to expectations, this may be explained by the percentage of time spent in S1 sleep. Additionally, it was observed that higher percentages of S2 sleep were associated with lower performance. This might be attributed to sleep inertia, as learning occurred within the 20 min following awakening.
Our findings suggest that short naps in the classroom can promote subsequent learning, and to avoid sleep inertia, it is recommended to wait at least 30 minutes after a 20 min nap before acquiring new information.