A good sleep is found to help college students retain and develop new information to solve problems during classroom exams, finds study.
The study showed that performance by university undergraduates on a microeconomics test was preserved after a 12-hour period that included sleep, especially for cognitively-taxing integration problems.
In contrast, performance declined after 12 hours of wakefulness and after a longer delay of one week.
According to the authors, recent sleep research has demonstrated that learned information is often replayed during sleep.
"Our findings demonstrate the importance of sleep to the ability to flexibly combine distinct concepts to solve novel problems," said lead author Michael Scullin, a doctoral candidate in the Behavior, Brain and Cognition program at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
The study involved 102 university undergraduates who had never taken an economics course.
They were tested on the material either immediately, after a 12-hour period that included sleep, after 12 hours without sleep, or after one week.
"The most surprising finding of our study was that sleep, relative to an equal-length wake interval, benefited performance on the novel, 'transfer' integration problems without affecting performance on the basic, trained problems," added Scullin.
The study was presented Tuesday, June 14, in Minneapolis, Minn., at SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.