Some parents advise wink, put the vocabulary book for the night before the English working under the pillow. The idea that the vocabulary wander through the cushions in our brain is, of course, a myth. In fact, this is not possible, although the ritual might seem reassuring, and thus improve performance. But quite so far-fetched the image from the vocabulary detention under the pillow is not: Brain researchers are convinced that we need to learn to sleep. Many experiments in the past decades have shown them that sleep and learning have much to do with each other.
Phases of sleep and memory phases
Hand on keyboard
Those who learn to repeat a key combination is fast, usually after sleeping better than before

Since the sleep research uses the StichwortEEG to measure brain activity during sleep, scientists have divided into different phases of sleep. They differ grossly REM sleep or dream sleep from all the other stages of sleep, the non-REM sleep, so non-dream sleep, are called. These non-dream sleep the sleep researchers have divided into the sleep phase I to IV. Phase III and IV are the keyword deep sleep. Normally, the first half of the night (no matter when you go to bed sets) are subject to a deep sleep. While growth hormones are released. In the second half we dream particularly strong in StichwortREM sleep. Our sleep therefore changes during the night. Differences also provide neuroscientists before the memory functions of the brain, because memory is not the same memory. They distinguish between the so-called "declarative" memory, which stores all the knowledge content, such as data, vocabulary, general knowledge and autobiographical knowledge, which can not be connected to specific events. There are also the so-called "non-declarative" or "procedural" memory. We store our knowledge of how we do certain things - for example, the handles to play an instrument or movement in sport. Procedural memory stores words from content that has to do with action and many motor functions, which are also controlled by the brain.
The consolidation of memory
Researcher raises volunteers
More than 40 times in a single night waking: Munich-based sleep researcher deliberately deprive their subjects REM and deep sleep

But we keep things in memory? The researchers believe that there must be a period of consolidation of memory contents. This process they called "consolidation." It is learned as stable anchored in the memory banks of the brain that it can always be accessed. In addition, it comes with some procedural learning content, so the knowledge of how we do things according to a (sleeping) pause even to improve performance: on This allowed subjects were those taught in an exercise, certain keys as quickly in succession Press, to improve their performance in actual practice only up to a certain limit. Thereafter, they were only better if they had inserted a sleep break. The next morning they were the keys to exercise even a lot better than the night before. A phenomenon that some musicians have also found for themselves: up to a certain point, uses the practice of a new piece. After that you will not get any better once. Sleep in and then continues the next day or later the exercise, you will notice a significant increase.
Wake up!
Sleep curve with sleep spindle
Because of their shape, these features are mentioned in the sleeping curves "sleep spindles"

Until recently, researchers believed that the brain makes the consolidation, ie the consolidation of memory contents, depending on the memory content in certain phases of sleep: During REM sleep it is to anchor the procedural and motor memory contents. And in deep sleep, the declarative content, so the classical knowledge. But as a scientist at the Munich Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry their subjects who had previously learned several declarative and motor tasks, once deprived of REM sleep, and even the deep sleep, had the nocturnal disturbance in the name of science or no influence on learning behavior . Despite sleep deprivation, the subjects had learned the tasks and could then better. What had happened? The researchers looked at the now remnant of sleep of the subjects, and in all stages of sleep that were not REM sleep or deep sleep, after traces of the night learning. And indeed they found a structure in their sleep curves, because of their shape they call "sleep spindles".
The spindles of sleep

The peculiar structure of the so-called sleep spindles is especially known from sleep phase II of the non-REM sleep. One theory states that, the spindle-shaped deflections in the EEG measurement occurs when calcium flows into nerve cells and the calcium, the cell is changed so that there - are anchored memory contents - at the cellular level. This may mean that sleep spindles are the signs of learning during sleep. Sorry, but can also be the cause sleep spindles not the fact that one simply creates only a vocabulary book under my pillow and sleep. You must first have been properly learned and practiced before the sleep brings the desired effect. After all, in the Munich experiment, the subjects had the most sleep spindles, which had also learned best and the subsequent test best sections.

The EEG (electroencephalogram) is a medical procedure that measures the electrical activity of the brain and records by registering the voltage fluctuations at the surface of the skull. These voltage fluctuations are due to activities within the individual brain cells, the brain processes information by chasing electrical currents through the individual neurons. In combination, the neurons pass or store information. Activities in various areas of the brain trigger a whole explosion of pulses, which in turn leaves characteristic pattern in the EEG. These patterns are recorded either graphically or stored as digital signals on a hard disk. Return to paragraph
2 Deep Sleep
In sound sleep to synchronize the neurons of the brain: They fire at a constant pace, the researchers can measure them and provides information about each phase of sleep. Generally between four sleep stages (I-IV) as well as the so called REM sleep is discriminated. The sleep stages III and IV, the researchers refer to deep sleep. Here the neurons fire synchronously particularly, the signals, which measure the researchers, show a uniform waveform. The researchers call for even from deep sleep as long-wave sleep or delta (wave) sleep. Return to paragraph
3 REM sleep
REM sleep is the sleep with rapid eye movements (REM = Rapid Eye Movement) and is called sloppy and dream sleep. During REM sleep, the synchronization of neurons is repealed. They cheer wildly: Unlike in other sleep stages, the brain is very active during REM sleep. Respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure to rise. Only the muscles remain unimpressive