More studies are indicating the importance of sleep. Adequate sleep helps prevent hypertension, diabetes, obesity, accidents, and cardiovascular disease among other illnesses. But it looks like there is one more reason to get those zz’zz’s. Sleep helps you learn new information.
Israeli scientists played tones to sleeping volunteers before placing several different odors under their noses. The smells triggered a sniffing reflex that showed the more pleasant the odors, the more intense the volunteer would sniff. Then the volunteers were played tones without the odors and the volunteers still sniffed, but they sniffed more strongly to tones that were paired with the pleasant odors. This conditioned response lasted all night and into the morning. The volunteers didn’t remember what they had learned, although this response shows the brains built-in-ability to be processing and learning new things while asleep.
Reference: Anat Arzi, et al., “Humans can learn new information during sleep,” Nature Neuroscience (Aug 26).