Whether you're studying for an important exam or learning a new language, there's convincing proof that nonstop cramming sessions may not translate into the long-term memory retention you want.
Follow our step-by-step guide on how you can make the most of your study sessions and ace that exam.
1. Memory consolidation
Memory is a complex process, and the brain requires time to absorb new information. A crucial step is so-called memory consolidation, when the newly created memory is laid down, enabling you to retrieve it later on. Extensive research has shown that this consolidation takes place as you sleep, and explains why studying before going to bed may help you retain what you read. While your body gets its needed rest, your brain stays active, with different parts of the brain communicating with each other.
Research done at Aachen University in Germany found that taking a 90-minute nap after learning can also boost recall after motor-skill or language learning. So next time someone tells you that you should be studying and not sleeping, you can tell them you’re working on your memory recall.
2. A 'set' break
A study done at New York University found that you can also "set" a new memory during waking hours by simply taking a break after a learning session, rather than immediately jumping into another task or onto a 'high-tech gadget'.
3. Walk it off
Enjoy a short walk or grab a snack and let your conscious mind wander so the deeper recesses of your brain can get to work on what you just learned – without being distracted by a new challenge.