NetSpeed Learning Solutions September 2017
Sleep and Memory
Sleep! You probably agree that we all need enough sleep to function well. When we don't get enough zzz's, it can impair our productivity and accuracy. But did you also know that sleep is essential for our brains to build long-term memories?
The student who crams all night for an exam the next day might be surprised to learn that catching even a few hours of sleep right after studying will do more for increasing knowledge retention than staying up all night without sleep. In those hours of slumber, information stored in short-term memory moves from the hippocampus to the neocortex. Scientists used to think that REM sleep, or rapid-eye movement sleep, was where all the action happened. But they now understand that slow-wave sleep (SWS) is critically important for memory consolidation. The good news? We spend a lot more time in slow-wave sleep than we do in REM sleep at night.
As training professionals, we need to know how learners form memories, and how they forget memories. The three phases of this process can be summarized as:
  • Encoding (short-term memory)
  • Consolidating (long-term memory)
  • Retrieval (reinforcement and application)
The waking brain (hippocampus) encodes memories in short-term memory. The sleeping brain (neocortex) integrates memories or consolidates them into long-term memory. The retrieval process strengthens long-term memory and increases the speed at which we can access that information. That's why "practice, practice, practice" is so important for anyone learning a new skill.
But here's the trick: the hippocampus is designed to filter out irrelevant or redundant information. Constantly scanning the environment, this region of your brain is always questioning whether it should move information into short-term memory. Because we can't hold much information in short-term memory (about seven bits at a time), the content of short-term memory degrades over time. Something has to go in order to make room for something else to stick.
If we take a one-hour nap after learning something, or go to bed within an hour or two of reviewing critical facts or information, our brains go to work consolidating that information into long-term memory. We dramatically increase the chances that we will be able to retrieve those memories the next day. And then, the act of retrieval strengthens the memory.
If you would like to know more about brain science and learning, plan to attend our next one-hour, complimentary webinar, Achieving Maximum Retention: More Brain-based Principles for the Virtual Classroom on Thursday, September 14, 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT.
Did you miss the August webinar, Brain-based Learning in the Virtual Classroom? If so, you may want to watch two short animated videos that summarize the first six brain-based learning principles before you attend the webinar in September. The videos are the first two on this page Virtual Learning Resources.

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Cynthia Clay
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Training Magazine's 

Online Learning Conference 2017

New Orleans, Louisiana

Tuesday, September 26

1:30 to 2:30 pm Eastern

Brain-based Learning in the 

Virtual Classroom

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ATD, Puget Sound Chapter, Workplace Learning Conference

Lynnwood Convention Center

Lynwood, Washington

Thursday, October 5

Brain-based Learning in the Virtual Classroom

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ATD TechKnowledge Conference 2018

January 24 - 26

San Jose, California

Brain-based Learning in the Virtual Classroom

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