How much did you study for the GRE this past week-end? For how many hours? Over how many sittings? What did you study and how did you study it?
Most importantly: how many breaks did you take and how long were they?
Time Magazine just published a fascinating little article: To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes and Relax. Go take a look at it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. : )
Has this happened to you? You have ambitious plans to study a ton of things this week-end. You get tired, but you’re determined to push through, so you keep studying. You begin to get a bit anxious because you feel you aren’t learning well (and you’re not!), so you study even more. You get even more tired, and that makes it even harder to learn. By the end of the week-end, you’re exhausted, frustrated, and demoralized.
You may have already heard me say this (many times on various forums or in blog posts!), but I’m saying it again because it’s so important: your brain makes better memories when it’s not tired.
The Time article quotes Michaela Dewar, the lead author of a new research study on this topic. She notes that we are at a very early stage of memory formation when we first start to study new information, and further neural processes have to occur after this stage for us to be able to remember this information at a later point in time.
The italics are mine. Note what Ms. Dewar has said: more stuff has to happen in our brains after we have studied this info in order for us to be able to recall that information later on.