Brain exercises and study binges are being given the boot in favour of closing your eyes and relaxing when it comes to allowing information to really take root in your mind. It seems that when encountering information for the first time, the brain begins to form memories, but there are further neural processes that have to take place before we can remember the information. To really cement the memory, your brain needs some time off so it can “replay” what it has just learned.
Sleep also plays a vital role in memory, though we don’t exactly understand how it consolidates memories yet. Sleep seem especially important for what is termed procedural memory (how to do things like play the piano or ride a bike or manage that yoga posture) – this is one of the reasons infants sleep so much and so frequently – they are putting down the memory of how to use their bodies.
So, next time you’re genning up for a test or trying to learn something new, remember to take some time out afterwards, close your eyes, relax, and let your brain remember.